Not Irreversible

The concept of “reversibility” in the Obama Administration’s new defense strategic guidance has a “different flavor” for the Air Force and Navy than the ground services, said Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. Both the Air Force and Navy “are major capital end-item intensive,” he told reporters during a briefing on Jan. 27. Accordingly, “when you think about reversibility, one needs to think about what programs do you have in train that really serve the role of modernization or recapitalization,” he explained, adding, “because there are long [lead times] associated, obviously, with major end items.” In the Air Force’s forthcoming five-year budget program that starts with Fiscal 2013, there is “commitment” to allow the service to expand on programs, like the KC-46A tanker, future bomber, F-35 strike fighter, and space initiatives, if necessary, to compensate for unexpected circumstances in the national security environment, noted Schwartz. The strategic guidance’s language, when discussing reversibility—essentially the ability to reconstitute warfighting capacity—calls for the Defense Department to be in a position “to make a course change that could be driven by many factors, including shocks or evolutions in the strategic, operational, economic, and technological spheres.” (Schwartz transcript)