With the threat of a yearlong continuing resolution lingering, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and his fellow service chiefs called on Congress to approve an appropriation bill for fiscal year 2017 during a hearing on the topic April 5, 2017, on Capitol Hill.
Already six months into a CR, the prolonged budget challenges have impacted the Air Force’s ability to sustain warfighting capacity, improve readiness, modernize the force, and invest in research and development to maintain decisive advantage over near-peer competitors.
“It’s unfortunate that we are now discussing yet another extended continuing resolution, which has already been said is the equivalent of a mini-sequestration round,” Goldfein testified before the House Committee on Armed Services. “We still haven’t recovered from round one.”
A continuing resolution would leave the Air Force $2.8 billion short in the last five months of its 2017 budget and negatively affect our Airmen, our operations and maintenance, and our modernization efforts.
- Flying squadrons not deployed or preparing to deploy would be grounded in June.
- Flight training would be impacted in July.
- Readiness exercises may be canceled.
- Thirteen thousand Air Force families would be delayed in their stateside moves.
- End-strength growth would halt.
- Retention bonuses would be deferred.
- Modernization efforts would stop.
- And, morale would decline.
“Pilots who don’t fly, maintainers who don’t maintain, air traffic controllers who don’t control– leave,” Goldfein said. “And, while we’ll never buy ourselves out of this shortage, an extended CR will also negate the pilot bonuses Congress authorized, which will break faith with the force.”
Even with the budget uncertainty, the Air Force’s senior leader said the joint force will answer the nation’s call, but made clear the committee understood his concerns.
“As a service chief, I have many obligations, but one remains paramount,” Goldfein said. “Every Airman we send into harm’s way must be properly organized, trained, equipped and led to succeed in their mission, and we must take care of their families while they’re gone. This is our moral obligation. A yearlong CR makes meeting this obligation extremely difficult.”