A lot of retired Air Force pilots are likely to find themselves called back to service under an executive order signed by President Trump Friday. The order lifts limits on calling retired military officers back to service under the terms of the state of national emergency that has been in place since days after the 9/11 attacks, USA Today reports. The order was issued to deal with what the Air Force says is a serious shortage of combat pilots, though it could also be used to "unretire" officers in other branches of the military. The Air Force says it is short around 1,500 pilots, and it expects around 1,000 to be called up under the executive order.
The previous limit allowed just 25 retired officers per branch of the military to be called up. "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 three years," said Pentagon spokesman Navy Cdr. Gary Ross. Aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia tells USA Today that the main reasons for the pilot shortage are competition from commercial aviation, training delays, and a greater number of military operations than anticipated. Last month, Trump signed an order to extend the national state of emergency for a 16th time "because the terrorist threat continues." (Read more US Air Force stories.)