The Budget’s Three-Part Invention

The Air Force’s budget request for Fiscal 2015, released Tuesday, includes $137.8 billion, of which $109.3 billion is for actual “blue” programs (the rest is “pass through” money controlled by other Defense agencies). The budget is an unprecedented three-part invention; it specifies a preferred President’s Budget, a lower proposed budget that assumes the budget sequester won’t be repealed, and a $7 billion share of the “Opportunity, Growth, and Security” initiative, which would be funded by taxes and other Federal offsets that seem to capture USAF’s unfunded priorities list. The USAF budget, as expected, calls for the retirement of the entire A-10 and U-2 fleets. If sequester isn’t repealed, USAF will also have to take out its KC-10 tanker fleet, its Block 40 RQ-4 Global Hawks, and sharply reduce its buys of MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft. Up to 25,000 uniformed airmen, mostly from the Active Duty ranks, will be phased out through voluntary and involuntary measures. The higher-level budget begins to repair the damage done to readiness by last year’s sequester-driven groundings. As the service telegraphed through recent speeches, it preserved funding for the KC-46 tanker, F-35 strike fighter, and the Long-Range Strike Bomber.