Defense

April 15, 2013

Budget request provides for best Air Force possible, Welsh says

af-budget
The Air Force’s $114.1 billion fiscal 2014 budget request will provide for the most capable airpower arm possible, the Air Force chief of staff said April 12.

Testifying with Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III told the House Armed Services Committee his service’s portion of DOD’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal will support what he believes will be a continuing demand for American airpower.

“America’s foreign policy choices reflect the conscious reliance on its Air Force to help realize success,” Welsh said. This, he said, currently involves managing the airlift requirements for a responsible drawdown in Afghanistan, addressing increasingly vocal international actors in the Asia-Pacific region, and satisfying the growing national reliance on space-based capabilities, he said.

The general said these choices are also bounded by shifting fiscal realities that will force the entire Defense Department to focus on capabilities and missions that are essential in the future.

“As an indispensable part of that joint force, the Air Force intends to continue operating in air, space and cyber, and to prioritize those core missions that have existed since our birth as a separate service in 1947,” Welsh said.

“America’s Airmen perform these missions exceptionally well,” he added. “And in doing so, they do provide global vigilance, global reach and global power for America.”

Welsh said the fiscal 2014 budget request does not fully account for necessary recovery actions from the current budgetary turbulence, and it doesn’t fully incorporate the potential cuts for sequestration in 2014 and beyond.

The proposed budget, however, does prioritize efforts to reverse the Air Force’s declining readiness trend, he said, noting that low states of readiness negate many of the strategic advantages of airpower.

“Flying hours are allocated to maintain, and in some cases, incrementally improve readiness levels across the total force in this budget,” Welsh said. “In the past, we’ve relied on overseas contingency operations funding to partially fund those flying hour programs and to maintain our current and substandard readiness levels.”

The general said the Air Force will continue to reduce its reliance on OCO funding for the flying hour program through 2015.

“At which point,” he said, “we should have as much as 90 percent of our peacetime flying requirement back in our baseline budget.”

Additionally, Welsh said, the Air Force has restored emphasis on its training ranges, funding about 75 percent of the requirement in that area, up from recent lows of only 25 percent.

After years of trading quantity for quality, he said, the Air Force now has fewer people in aircraft than at any time since it became an independent service.

“Unfortunately, while the numbers have gone down, both the real cost of personnel and their proportion relative to the rest of the budget has increased dramatically,” Welsh said.

Meanwhile, “pay and benefits continue to rise, as have the costs of the Defense Department health care program, which has grown approximately 270 percent over the last 11 years,” he said.

Welsh said Air Force leadership supports DOD’s request to limit the military pay raise to only 1 percent in this budget proposal and to explore “meaningful” modifications in the TRICARE health care system.

The Air Force will look to consolidate infrastructure and reduce excess capacity where allowed, he said, and supports DOD’s request for further base realignment and closure authority in fiscal 2015.

“As difficult as a BRAC would be for everyone, we can simply no longer afford to retain unnecessary overhead that diverts precious resources from readiness and modernization,” Welsh said.

Welsh said the Air Force’s portion of the proposed fiscal 2014 budget also strives to protect modernization to support current defense strategic guidance.

“The KC-46 (tanker), F-35 (Lightning II) and long-range strike bomber remain our top-three investment priorities,” he said. “We need the F-35. It remains the best platform to address the proliferation of highly capable integrated air defenses and new air-to-air threats.”

And the long-range strike bomber “will give our nation a flexible, credible capability to strike globally with precision on limited notice should the national interest require,” Welsh added.

The KC-46 tanker is the Air Force’s highest modernization priority, he said, and it will ultimately replace a third of the current tanker fleet.

“(This) tanker fleet puts the ‘global’ in global vigilance, global reach, and global power,” Welsh said. “It provides strategic options for our nation. We simply must modernize it.”

The general also noted that four of the Air Force’s 10 largest modernization programs are space-based platforms.

“We’ll also contend to invest in our most important resource – our airmen,” Welsh said. “We’ll provide the training, education, and professional development opportunities they need to be the best in the world at what they do.

“If we can’t do that, they will find other work,” he added. “We’ll continue to do everything in our power to care for our airmen and their families, while balancing the resources required to do that, with the understanding that our primary job is to fight and win the nation’s wars.”

Welsh said it is his job to help Donley field the best fighting force possible.

“I believe our 2014 budget request moves us in that direction,” the general said. “It postures the Air Force to improve readiness, to limit force structure, and to limit force structure cost and to protect vital modernization.”

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez

Smart-mortar will help Soldiers more effectively hit targets

Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez Nick Baldwin and Evan Young, researchers with the Armament Research Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, Pennsylvania, discuss the 120mm Guided Enhanced Fragmentation Mortar ...
 
 

Air Force assigns new chief scientist

The Air Force announced the service’s new chief scientist to serve as a science and technology adviser to the secretary of the Air Force and the chief of staff of the Air Force, May 21. Dr. Greg Zacharias will be the 35th chief scientist and is ready to “dive in” to his new role. “I...
 
 

TSgt promotion release delayed to allow system validation

Technical sergeant promotion selection results, originally scheduled for release May 28, will be delayed to enable the Air Force to continue to validate extensive system changes to the Weighted Airman Promotion System, officials announced. The 15E6 technical sergeant promotion cycle is the first to incorporate recent changes in the enlisted evaluation and promotion system. Recent...
 

 

Freedom completes rough water trials

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom completed Seakeeping and Structural Loads Trials, commonly referred to as Rough Water Trials in late March the Navy reported May 21. The U.S. Navy must demonstrate the seaworthiness and structural integrity of each new ship class. One of the primary ways the Navy verifies these qualities is through a...
 
 

Air Force releases Strategic Master Plan

The Air Force officially released the Strategic Master Plan May 21, which is the latest in a series of strategic documents designed to guide the organizing, training and equipping of the force over the coming decades. The SMP builds on the strategic imperatives and vectors described in the capstone document, America’s Air Force: A Call...
 
 

HYT extension possible for SrA-MSgt in 35 career fields

Eligible senior airmen, staff sergeants, technical sergeants and master sergeants in 35 Air Force specialties will be able to apply for a high year of tenure extension and, if approved, will be able to extend between 12 and 24 months past their current HYT. The Air Force is introducing several personnel and manpower initiatives to...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>