Welsh: Sequestration will ‘undermine’ readiness
Unprecedented budget factors have placed the nation’s defense strategy in jeopardy, senior Defense Department leaders told the Senate Armed Services Committee Feb. 12.
During his opening remarks, the chief of staff of the Air Force stressed the severity of the current fiscal situation.
“Sequestration threatens to carve crucial capability from America’s Air Force, with alarming and immediate effects on people, readiness and infrastructure, and eventually on modernization,” said Gen. Mark Welsh III. “If it occurs, it will significantly undermine your Air Force’s readiness and responsiveness today.”
The common theme of the day was attempting to quantify the relationship between risk and sequestration.
“If sequestration occurs, it will severely limit our ability to implement our defense strategy,” said Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “It will put the nation at greater risk of coercion. And, it will break faith with the men and women who serve this nation in uniform.”
Unless sequestration is averted, the impacts on the Air Force include budget cuts resulting in cancelling about 200,000 flying hours this year. This includes training and nonsupport of combatant commander requirements like theater security packages and continuous bomber presence missions.
The Air Force recently partnered with a community hospital to develop highly skilled nurses who are trained for humanitarian and peacetime missions at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. These medical Airmen’s skills are proven to increase patient survival rates in theater hospitals.
Air Combat Command officials announced Monday they will continue to take actions to slow and, within the near-term, dramatically restrict fiscal 2013 spending in light of pending sequestration and a projected $1.8 billion shortfall in overseas contingency funding.
The Air Force reached a major milestone Feb. 12 when the service hit the 2 million pounds mark of cargo transported during airlift operations from Istres to Bamako, Mali, and other partner nations in support of French military operations in Northern Africa.
In another historic step for the Afghan air force, an AAF Cessna 208 configured for battlefield casualty evacuation successfully transported a seriously injured U. S. Army Soldier and three minor casualties Feb. 11 from Kandahar to Kabul International Airport.