America Will Need a Ready Air Force

The Air Force has met the demands of a high operational tempo during the decade of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but this pace has taken a toll on personnel and equipment, said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley. “We have seen a steady decline in unit readiness since 2003,” he wrote in an opinion piece that appeared at the AOL Defense website on Jan. 10. The completion of activity in Iraq and the wind-down of operations in Afghanistan “should provide an opportunity to reset the force,” but other security challenges remain and, in some cases, are growing, he stated. Thus, “America will need a ready Air Force,” he wrote. Given the projected decline in defense budgets, the Air Force has made the choice to become smaller in size “to protect a high quality and ready force,” stated Donley. “A smaller force with less capacity requires greater attention to ensuring fully adequate personnel levels, availability of aircraft, and training,” he wrote. Allowing the Air Force’s readiness to decline “would negate the essential strategic advantages of airpower,” stated Donley. For more, read The Readiness Question from Air Force Magazine. (See also Almost No Margin in Capacity and The Best Combination of Choices.)