AFMC Boss Seeks Flexibility to Manage Manpower in Coming Budget “Shifts”

As the Air Force “shifts” some $30 billion from legacy programs to new activities in the fiscal 2021 budget, the head of Air Force Materiel Command doesn’t see a restructure of his organization, but wants the authority to redistribute any saved manpower billets to projects already understaffed.

Gen. Arnold Bunch, commander of AFMC, told defense reporters in Washington, D.C., the Air Force “will make shifts” in the coming budget request that “will cause things to change within some of our program offices … if we retire certain platforms.” However, while there will probably be “some changes in organizations … it won’t be a complete reorg. I’m not looking at that.”

AFMC has gone through several large-scale reorganizations and contractions in the last decade, each striving to better align programs from inception to retirement.

Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said last week the $30 billion funding move from legacy activities to those better aligned with the National Defense Strategy will mostly fund new connectivity, space systems, combat power, and logistics initiatives. He and other service leaders have hinted that the programs the Air Force will propose terminating will include some high-profile weapon systems.

When that happens, “What I’ve asked for is … let me have the flexibility … to shift the workforce as I need it,” Bunch said, and not “immediately try to move manpower somewhere else.” The Air Force has “started a myriad of programs over the years without additional manpower coming into the acquisition workforce,” he explained, and he’d like to get some of those programs “healthier,” given that they don’t have the “optimal” staffing. He didn’t give any examples, citing the fact that the budget is still in development.

He argued that AFMC—as the agency that runs basic through advanced research, sustains systems, does “all the buying,” nuclear weapons development and sustainment, testing and installation support—is “the most important Majcom to get to the National Defense Strategy.” Given that, “anything they do in the budget is directly going to impact what we’re doing. And we will adjust accordingly to accommodate.”

Bunch said Air Force depots will only see a change in activities if the senior leadership decides “certain platforms are not going to be there” anymore. In that case, “the depots won’t do that work, but we are flexible enough to handle that.”