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Air Force needs 2,000 pilots. And it's getting worse

Staff Writer |
The pilot shortage that has dogged the U.S. Air Force has gotten worse as the service's top officials say the shortage has surged to about 2,000 airmen.

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In September, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Goldfein told attendees at the annual Air Crew Summit at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland that the service is "in a crisis" that could compromise its ability to defend the nation. According to Goldfein and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, it's gotten worse.

"Last summer, we were reporting to people that we were about 1,500 pilots short in the Air Force - and we expected it to get worse," Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told reporters.

"Almost 2,000 pilots short of a force that has 20,000 pilots, so that's one in 10 that we're short."

"The fiscal 2018 continuing resolution is actually delaying our efforts to increase the readiness of the force, and risk accumulates over time," Wilson said.

"We are stretching the force to the limit, and we need to start turning the corner on readiness."

"Surge has become the new normal," Wilson said. "Less than one percent of Americans serve in uniform and protect the rest of us, and they're carrying a heavy burden.

"We are burning out our people because we are too small for what the nation is asking of us."

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