The US Air Force has suspended personnel moves and bonuses through the end of the fiscal year as the service faces a funding shortfall driven by higher-than-expected costs, according to a statement from the service Monday.
The Air Force said it needed to take these steps now “to avoid exhausting funds” dedicated to personnel.
The suspensions could affect tens of thousands of service members, according to an Air Force official, though it’s unclear how large the shortfall is. The personnel moves are expected to start up again in the new fiscal year beginning on October 1, the official said.
Airmen who are scheduled to move in July will still be approved to relocate to their new positions, the Air Force said in a statement about the changes, but later moves will be delayed. Personnel moves in August or later “are being reviewed and approved on a priority basis,” the service said.
The Air Force is also pausing certain bonus payments for service members, including reenlistment bonuses and extra incentive pay for difficult or extended assignments. The bonus payments are expected to resume when the new fiscal year begins.
The suspension also affects airmen expected to return to the United States from living overseas. The Air Force said these service members will have their moves, originally scheduled for later this year, delayed by several months into early next year.
It is not uncommon for the military services to face funding shortfalls near the end of the fiscal year, the official said, but in the Air Force, those more often limit expenses like the number of flying hours. The official said it was “unusual” for such a shortfall to affect personnel.
“The Air Force continues to work through additional options to avoid the funding shortfall and will provide more information when available,” the service said in its statement.
The pause in moves and bonuses come as the Air Force and the other military services are dealing with the consequences of a hold on top officer nominations from Sen. Tommy Tuberville, the Alabama Republican who objects to the Defense Department’s reproductive health policy. The hold affects more than 200 general and flag officers, including Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, who is nominated to be the military’s next top officer.
Brown met with Tuberville on Monday, one day before Brown’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Before their meeting, Tuberville indicated that he won’t let up on the confirmation holds, insisting it did not cause a national security risk or affect military readiness, despite senior military officers saying it does.