Sgt. William Russell is set to retire Feb. 1. His family has already moved back to Kentucky, but now the 46-year-old does not know if he will be able to join them. The Air Force has put a freeze on retirements and separations, affecting more than 330 personnel at Pope Air Force Base.
For the next 30 days, no one can leave. During that time, the Air Force will assess its personnel requirements and then extend the Stop-Loss for some specialties.
"It's real important to retain the necessary skills and capabilities we have in the Air Force when we come into a national crisis or conflict like this," says Maj. Guy Parker of the 43rd Mission Support Squadron.
It could be that pilots, maintainers, even airmen with language skills who have jobs lined up outside the Air Force could miss their opportunity. As the superintendent of relocation, Russell thinks he will be required to stay in uniform. He said he is committed to serve.
"I don't mind. My family was concerned, but they know I've been in the military for 23 years," he said. "They know it's my way of life and after what happened, they need to support me in what I need to do."
The secretary of defense has authorized the use of stop-loss for all branches of the military. So far, just the Air Force has taken advantage of that. The Navy is implementing a limited stop-loss next week. No decision has been made at the Army level or at Fort Bragg whether they will follow suit.