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Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James gives her "State of the Force" presentation during
AFA's Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 26, 2016. Air Force photo by Scott M. Ash.

​The Air Force is looking to add 6,000 Active Duty airmen as it recovers from deep cuts to its ranks, and Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said she has the authority to do more. The Fiscal 2017 budget request calls for funding to increase the Active Duty ranks to 317,000 airmen, up from the current number of 311,000. The service is “in the process” of building up its ranks, but based on current needs placed on the force, James said she has the power through existing law to increase the congressionally approved end strength by up to two percent. “The demands on the force are such, and given the world condition, I believe more than 317,000 would be prudent,” James said at AWS16. If the Air Force can “get the right talent,” it will look to add beyond the amount approved in the budget and would need to ask Congress for reprogramming authority to pay for the additional airmen, she said.