“Didn’t Save a Nickel”

That’s what Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said about the Air Force’s attempt to generate money for recapitalization of aging weapon systems by cutting end strength. During his first visit to Southwest Asia since taking the top uniformed position, Schwartz explained that the effort “failed” because of rising personnel costs. He said: “The most expensive component of our capability now is people. It used to be platforms. It’s now you and me.” However, he cautioned against making new end strength cuts once the service stabilizes at around 333,000 in Fiscal 2010. Instead, he said USAF should cut force structure. Word already has leaked that USAF plans in 2010 tocut a good portion of its legacy fighters. Schwartz acknowledged that, saying, “We are going to do some of that and there will be push back.” But, he predicted, “We will see our way through all of that” by working “with stakeholders to articulate and advocate how that can be done without loss of capability.” (379th AEW report by MSgt. Jeff Loftin)