Schwartz Says Air Force Will Argue Its Case

The Air Force will argue “strenuously” in upcoming strategy and posture reviews for capabilities it believes are essential to national defense, Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz asserted Friday at the Brookings Institution in Washington. Asked if he agrees that there were appropriate “strategic underpinnings” to Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ recent budget-cutting recommendations, including termination of the F-22 fighter at 187 aircraft, Schwartz started his answer twice, then settled on “I think it’s been more thought-through” than opponents of the cuts have suggested. Schwartz said that reasonable people may disagree with the cuts, but he explained: “We have to contain our appetite. We have to make choices. Are they painful? Of course they are.” However, Schwartz stated that USAF will not “sit still” and “just sort of accept” a presumptive set of decisions in the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review and Nuclear Policy Review and other strategic debates. It will argue strenuously and make “the best possible case we can … for what the Joint Commander needs,” said Schwartz, but he added, in the end, the Secretary of Defense and the President “get to decide.”