WASHINGTON — The one thing everyone wants, and needs, is more Air Force, Undersecretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning told Airmen during a town-hall meeting and members of the Fifth Annual National Summit on Strategic Communications at the Washington Plaza Hotel recently.
Fanning’s message to both groups had the common thread of the Air Force embracing and celebrating all aspects of its mission, while understanding and communicating those strengths.
“The Air Force is the one service the other services couldn’t do without,” he said. Fanning explained the unique role the Air Force has in providing support and kinetic power to the fight in a way only the Air Force can.
“Being the service that is the glue that holds the joint fight together is something we need to embrace more,” he said. “We need to embrace all the things we are, and celebrate them. We are a warfighting enterprise, like the other services, but we’re an intelligence organization as well. We’re the connective tissue between the traditional warfighting arms and the intelligence community.”
Fanning described the dominating presence the Air Force will be in the future.
“We’re the service that’s going to provide the trade space, the decision space and the options for the president and the joint chiefs because we’ll be the ones who can tell you what’s happening around the world, but we also have the ability to do something about it in a kinetic way,” he said.
The undersecretary explained what kinds of challenges the budget constraints have brought to Air Force leadership, and how the common narrative is the need for more Air Force capabilities.
“For the fiscal 2015 budget, the Air Force had $40 billion in issue papers [bills],” Fanning said. “That is substantially more than the other three services combined. So the narrative there, it’s clear to me and I think it’s clear to other people as well, what the other services wanted that wasn’t in the overall [Department of Defense] budget was more Air Force. It’s certainly what the combatant commanders want.”
His solution for meeting these demands is increasing the Air Force budget.
“The issue should be that the Air Force’s budget should be increasing,” he said. “The percentage of the total of the Department of Defense should be increasing.”
Fanning noted the mission complexities of the Air Force, and acknowledged the strategic trades which take place within the service.
“The Air Force is a bunch of air forces, still competing against each other (for funding),” he said. “It’s not an either/or within the Air Force, we need to make a case for why you need to fund the Air Force more.”