The Air Force’s Share of the Pain

The Defense Department has yet to figure out what the Air Force’s “share” of a further $500 billion in spending cuts would be over 10 years if Congress fails to reverse the Budget Control Act’s sequester clause, said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley. “Those decisions haven’t been made,” Donley told defense reporters in Washington, D.C., on April 23. “But we all recognize significant adjustments would be made” to the service’s force structure if the sequester persists, he said. The nation’s leaders are “fairly set that we need to have a ready force, whatever size it is. There are different ways of measuring that . . . but I think there’s broad agreement that the smaller the force, the more ready it needs to be,” said Donley. That means personnel and modernization might be hit hard, he said. Some “selected parts of the force structure” might grow a bit in a still-smaller Air Force, but most of the service would shrink, said Donley. If it happens, “significant force structure and modernization adjustments [are] ahead of us,” he said. Noting that $487 billion has already been cut from defense through Fiscal 2021, “the second $500 [billion] will be more dramatic,” he said. (For more coverage of Donley’s reporters’ roundtable, see Get Well Soon, Not.)