Wake Up Call?:

During budget briefs, senior Air Force officials said the Air Force will need an extra $20 billion a year for recapitalizing worn-out gear, but on Thursday at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., Secretary Michael Wynne told reporters, “It’s a poor time to go to Congress” and make that case. “We just laid a $700 billion defense budget” on Congress, including supplementals, and Capitol Hill will not be inclined to listen to a request for more, Wynne observed. Still, he argued that “it’s time” that a debate be launched about whether the US can afford to spend more of its GDP on its own defense. However, Wynne acknowledged that the Air Force can’t handle a second procurement holiday on top of the one it endured in the 1990s. It was bad luck that 9/11 happened just as USAF expected to start recapitalizing again, and service leaders have kept silent since then as Pentagon leaders focused on current operations at the expense of modernization. It can’t keep silent anymore, though, asserted Wynne, admitting, “It took a long time to wake up” to the modernization crisis.