The United States Air Force has a serious shortage of combat pilots, reportedly needing about 1,500 more pilots than are currently in service.
In order to address the shortage, the only immediate solution is to bring back retired pilots, but by law, no more than 25 retired officers can be brought back into service in any one branch.
To address the problem, President Trump signed an executive order Friday, which would remove the caps and allow the Air Force to recall as many as 1,000 pilots to active duty. The order is an expansion of a state of national emergency provision declared by former President George W. Bush after the 9/11 attack.
In announcing Trump’s signing of the executive order, a Pentagon official released a statement saying, “We anticipate that the Secretary of Defense will delegate the authority to the Secretary of the Air Force to recall up to 1,000 retired pilots for up to three years.”
USA Today reported that the executive order is not limited to the Air Force, and could also be used to recall officers in other branches of the military.
Air Force combat missions have been heavily utilized in the war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq – a fight that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said will be expanding and becoming more aggressive.
In June, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., labeled the pilot shortage a crisis that would prevent the Air Force from fulfilling its mission.
“This is a full-blown crisis, and if left unresolved, it will call into question the Air Force’s ability to accomplish its mission,” said McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee.
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