Trump signs order allowing recall of more retired pilots

Maj. Matt "Fitty" Tucker, left, describes aspects of the F-35A Lightning II with President Donald Trump, along with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Lt. Col. Nick "Miles" Edwards during the Chief's "Air Power Demonstration," designed to discuss key points regarding current and future national defense requirements Sept. 15, 2017, on Joint Base Andrews, Md. Tucker and Edwards are from the 58th Fighter Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday that will allow the Air Force to address what the Pentagon says is a serious pilot shortage.

The order amending a post-9-11 emergency declaration will allow the Air Force to recall pilots from retirement.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross, says the Air Force is currently short approximately 1,500 pilots.

Under current law, the Air Force is limited to recalling 25 pilots. The order removes that cap for the Air Force, as well as other branches of the military.

Ross says the Secretary of Defense is expected to allow the Secretary of the Air Force to recall up to 1,000 retired pilots for up to three years.

President Trump described the shortage of airmen "terrible" during a September address on the 70th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force. At that time he repeated his promise to end the budget sequestration and increase defense spending by $20 billion.

Earlier in the year, senior personnel officials from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps testified before Congress on what the Pentagon has deemed a "national aircrew crisis."

The shortage has been attributed to a "confluence of circumstances," Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Personnel Services Lt. Gen. Gina M. Grosso said back in March.

"This crisis is the result of multiple factors: high operational tempo over the last 26 years, a demand for our pilots from the commercial industry, and cultural issues that affect the quality of life and service for our airmen,” Grosso said.

(Sinclair Broadcast Group contributed to this report.)

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