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.


 
 

 

Headlines March 4, 2015

News: Pentagon: Another BRAC will save money - Pentagon planners have a new pitch to lawmakers skeptical of a fresh round of base closings: We promise we’ll save money this time.   Business: China’s new C919 will begin test flights this year - China’s new superjet will take to the skies for the first time later this...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Jensen Stidham

World War II pilot reunited with P-47

Air Force photograph by SrA. Jensen Stidham Retired Air National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Hertel, laughs while under the wing of a P-47 Thunderbolt during the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course Feb. 2...
 
 

News Briefs March 4, 2015

General: 8,500 Islamic State fighters killed in Iraq so far The U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq has killed more than 8,500 Islamic State fighters since its bombing campaign began in August, the top general overseeing the coalition said March 3. Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the commander of U.S. Central Command, said the Islamic State, which...
 

 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Turning up the heat

Lockheed Martin photograph Lockheed Martin ATHENA laser weapon system defeats a truck target by disabling the engine, demonstrating its military effectiveness against enemy ground vehicles. Latest evolution of Lockheed Martin l...
 
 

USO Visit

Air Force photograph by Jet Fabara Actor Vince Vaughn speaks with Edwards Airmen and 412th Security Forces Squadron members at the base library before introducing an advance screening of his new movie, “Unfinished Business,” at the base theater Feb. 28.
 
 

Sikorsky S-97 RAIDERô team begins final assembly of second aircraft

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., announced March 4 the start of final assembly of the second S-97 RAIDERô helicopter at the company’s Development Flight Center. Along with a team of industry suppliers, Sikorsky is developing two RAIDERô prototypes to demonstrate the revolutionary new capabilities in improved maneuverability and flight speed. The...
 




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>