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Air Force Eases Personnel Cuts for U.S. Missileers

The U.S. Air Force said it will consider 4,000 fewer personnel for termination to help support working conditions for its missileers, Stars and Stripes reports.

The decision reduces the number of airmen slated for potential involuntary separation from the service through this autumn, the newspaper reported on Monday. The move followed revelations that the nation's land-based nuclear missile force faces a number of organizational problems, including widespread cheating on examinations and a high incidence of worker "burnout."

"Establishing full manning in our nuclear positions underscores the vital importance of this mission," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in a press release. "It also offers these critical airmen a more stable work schedule and improves their quality of life."

In March, James told Stars and Stripes that the Air Force planned to eliminate roughly 16,700 active-duty personnel in the coming budget cycle. Review panels are set to weigh possible cuts this month, and to report their determinations around the end of July or the beginning of August.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said he and James had "decided to retain 4,000 Airmen who were previously eligible" for possible separation.

"This adjustment is necessary because we're not sure whether we'll be allowed to execute the difficult decisions we made to divest force structure next year and because of our recent decision to increase manning in the nuclear mission," he said in the press release.

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