The Cost of Being What They’re Not

Thousands of airmen are filling in for Army troops—known as in-lieu-of taskings—in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Gen. Ronald Keys, head of Air Combat Command, says it costs him money he doesn’t have. Keys told defense reporters as a Washington breakfast meeting Thursday, “I’m spending money to train people for skills that I don’t maintain for the United States Air Force.” And, he added, a standard six-month deployment for ILO airmen turns into eight months because they must spend two months to train for the new tasks. The non-blue work represents a “huge training bill,” said Keys, but he was quick to say he doesn’t mind helping out while the Army resets its force. However, he thinks it is past time to sit down with Army leadership to sort out allocation of resources. Bottom line, says Keys, “I don’t maintain the core competency for driving convoys and driving 50-caliber gun trucks.”