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 April 18, 2014

Business: Lockheed to Lose 17 F-35s Under Automatic Pentagon Cuts - Pentagon will cut 17 of the 343 F-35 fighters it planned to buy from Lockheed Martin in fiscal 2016 through 2019 unless Congress repeals automatic budget cuts, according to a new Defense Department report. DOD looking for ways not to break MH-60R helo deal - The...
 
 

News Briefs April 18, 2013

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,177 As of April 15, 2014, at least 2,177 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,802 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result...
 
 
LM-F35-hours

F-35 fleet surpasses 15,000 flying hours

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fleet recently surpassed 15,000 flight hours, marking a major milestone for the program.  “Flying 15,000 hours itself demonstrates that the program is maturing, but what I think is e...
 

 
nasa-cassini

NASA Cassini images may reveal birth of new Saturn moon

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet’s known moons. Images taken w...
 
 

NASA completes LADEE mission with planned impact on Moon’s surface

Ground controllers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer spacecraft impacted the surface of the moon, as planned, between 9:30 and 10:22 p.m., PDT, April 17. LADEE lacked fuel to maintain a long-term lunar orbit or continue science operations and was intentionally sent...
 
 
Photograph courtesy of NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Kepler telescope discovers first Earth-size planet in ‘habitable zone’

Photograph courtesy of NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech Kepler-186f resides in the Kepler-186 system about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The system is also home to four inner planets, seen lined up...
 




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>