The “Red-Headed Stepchild”

The condition of the Air Force has started to worry many in Congress, but few more than Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) She is concerned about the lack of new investment. “Here is the problem,” said Tauscher, chair of the House Armed Services strategic forces panel. “You’ve got the Air Force, effectively, as the red-headed stepchild” among the services. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, she warned that the Air Force and Navy are “just being completely constricted on their capabilities” so that the Pentagon can “deal with what you have to do for ground forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.” She asked, “How long are we going to do this?” Tauscher noted particularly the rundown of USAF’s airlift capabilities. “You need to have a healthy, vibrant, robust airlift capability in order to do anything,” and it doesn’t make sense to her that the Bush Administration hasn’t asked for more airlift money. “Why aren’t there any C-17s in the budget? Why are they depending on the Congress to put them in? Why do we have to make choices between the C-5s and C-17s? Isn’t that their job?”