Almost No Margin in Capacity

The Air Force has already reduced its force structure just about as much as it can and still meet its responsibilities to support the nation’s new defense strategy, said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley. In most mission areas, the Air Force’s “supply” of forces is equal to the strategic “demand,” and there’s “almost no margin in capacity,” he wrote in an opinion piece posted at the AOL Defense website on Jan. 9. The same holds true for support functions—the service has found about as many efficiencies as it can, he said. With few exceptions, “the Air Force is now sized and structured to meet the requirements outlined in the new defense strategic guidance,” stated Donley. There are “very few options for further reductions in force structure without incurring significant risk to the capabilities we provide to joint and coalition forces,” he wrote. “One area where potential savings have not been fully exploited is installations,” noted Donley, calling on Congress “to approve another round of base closures to help consolidate scarce maintenance and repair resources in a more efficient basing structure.” However, thus far, Congress has resisted that. (See also The Best Combination of Choices.)