How Bad Did It Get?

At the height of sequestration in 2013, Air Combat Command had “eight combat-ready airplanes” in the continental US “that weren’t already on rotation or preparing to go,” said ACC chief Gen. Mike Hostage. Speaking at an AFA-sponsored, Air Force event in Arlington, Va., Hostage said groundings and flying-hours cuts left him “no reservoir force if a contingency popped up in Syria, Iran, North Korea … That’s how bad it got.” He said he was on Capitol Hill that whole summer “trying to explain: This is the reality of what sequestration is doing to us. We have to stop this.” Hostage said, “We have clawed our way back out of that hole,” thanks to the respite of the Murray-Ryan bipartisan budget agreement. “It was a long struggle” to get back to fighting trim, but “I don’t see anything happening that’s going to end sequestration” after the deal expires in Fiscal ’16, because the nation has not yet addressed its fiscal problems, Hostage asserted. “I’m telling my force we may have to be ready to deal with a sequester budget for the duration of the law,” he said. The Budget Control Act, which created sequestration, runs until 2023. (See also Welcome to the Hollow Force from the September 2013 edition of Air Force Magazine.)