by WorldTribune Staff, October 25, 2017
U.S. President Donald Trump responded to what the Pentagon called “an acute shortage of pilots” by issuing an executive order allowing the Air Force to recall up to 1,000 retired pilots.
The decision was made as tensions on the Korean peninsula are at the highest levels since a truce suspended the war there in 1953.
Pentagon spokesman Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross said in a statement that the Air Force is currently “short approximately 1,500 pilots of its requirements.”
That number includes approximately 1,200 fighter pilots, he said.
“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 3 years,” Ross said.
“The pilot supply shortage is a national level challenge that could have adverse effects on all aspects of both the government and commercial aviation sectors for years to come.”
In June, Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said the pilot shortage is a “full-blown crisis, and if left unresolved, it will call into question the Air Force’s ability to accomplish its mission.”
Trump’s order, which the president signed on Oct. 20, amends an emergency declaration signed by President George W. Bush in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. The Air Force is only allowed to recall up to 25 pilots under current law. The order signed by Trump temporarily removes that cap for all branches of the military.
In September, Trump renewed the post-9/11 state of national emergency, which allows the president to call up the national guard, hire and fire officers and delay retirements.