The Air Force is looking for some major budget relief by cutting down the total number of active airmen. This move could have a major local impact at Keesler Air Force Base. The national deficit has continued to skyrocket over the past several years, and not even the Department of Defense is immune to budget cuts. Brigadier General, Patrick Higby, says, "The maximum potential is a reduction of 25,000 airmen, which represents roughly eight percent of the force, so if Keesler took its fair share, it would be eight percent of the force structure here." That eight percent would come from nearly 2,000 airman at the base who are eligible for voluntary or involuntary separation programs. Higby also says, "And of course, our desire is that as many of those airmen as possible would look for other opportunities in the Guard or Reserve because ultimately, when you look at how the Air Force goes to war, it's a total force." This total force idea is exactly what Higby hopes he can maintain by moving active duty personnel to reserve roles. Higby closes, "So when I think about what I've invested into a given airmen in terms of the training and experience they had, I want to try to preserve that." Higby says the plan is already in action. He says the goal is to have these airmen transitioned out of the Active Duty Air Force by the end of this year.