Strategic Choices

Undersecretary of the Air Force Erin Conaton said Wednesday senior Air Force leaders are “very supportive” of the rigorous strategic review that the Defense Department is getting ready to launch to identify areas of cost-cutting across the services and determine the risks and implications those resource reductions would have on the force. Speaking at an Air Force Association-sponsored Air Force Breakfast Series presentation in Arlington, Va., Conaton said the review, as far as USAF is concerned, will attempt to balance the Air Force’s full range of missions while keeping in mind the capabilities necessary for the current and future fights. A possible change to the service’s end strength, which already has decreased by roughly 26,000 personnel over the last seven years, also will be part of the process, she said. Although Conaton said it’s too early to determine what level of cuts may be necessary, she said any end-strength decisions will not come without significant analysis and consideration. “That’s not going to be an easy decision for us,” she said. Finally, the review will consider the substantial aircraft recapitalization efforts underway on the service’s aging tanker and fighter fleets, she noted.