ANG in the Salami Slicer

Driving the Pentagon’s BRAC proposals to eliminate a number of Air National Guard flying units around the country is one basic fact: Budget cuts and aging aircraft mean there will be fewer airframes overall in years ahead. In the past, as USAF cut the number of active flying squadrons, it left the number of reserve units untouched, cutting airframes-per-unit instead. That “salami-slicing approach,” Maj. Gen. Gary Heckman told the BRAC commission last Thursday, will lead, for example, to a typical reserve squadron of only 11 F-16s by 2011. That, he said, is “less than half the optimum size.” By 2017, the numbers get worse: seven per unit.