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 July 23, 2014

News: Israel’s Iron Dome defense in line for tripled U.S. spending - Israel’s iron Dome missile defense system may end up getting triple the U.S. funding that the Defense Department sought for it in March. Ukraine asked U.S. for systems to counter Russian missiles - A month before the United States says a Russian missile likely brought...
 
 

News Briefs July 23, 2014

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,194 As of July 22, 2014, at least 2,194 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. The AP count is three less than the Defense Department’s tally. At least...
 
 
Raytheon photograph

Raytheon completes key Air, Missile Defense Radar reviews

Raytheon photograph Partially-populated, full-sized Air and Missile Defense Radar array. Raytheon has completed two critical program reviews for the new Air and Missile Defense Radar, the U.S. Navy’s next generation integ...
 

 
Insitu photograph

Insitu demonstrates long endurance capabilities of Integrator unmanned aircraft

Insitu photograph Insitu’s Integrator unmanned aircraft recovers via SkyHook; the aircraft recently completed a 24-hour endurance flight. Insitu announced July 22 the successful 24-hour flight of its Integrator unmanned a...
 
 

NASA partners punctuate summer with spacecraft development advances

Spacecraft and rocket development is on pace this summer for NASA’s aerospace industry partners for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program as they progress through systems testing, review boards and quarterly sessions under their† Space Act Agreements with the agency. NASA engineers and specialists continue their review of the progress as the agency and partners move...
 
 

U.S. Navy selects Northrop Grumman for ship self-defense system

The U.S. Navy has awarded Northrop Grumman a $12 million task order for a full range of engineering services to continue modernizing the Ship Self-Defense System Mark 2. The contract has a potential value of $61 million over five years, if all options are exercised. SSDS MK2 is a combat system designed for anti-air defense...
 




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>