The Fire This Time

All the arguments for retiring the A-10 have only gotten more compelling in the last year, not less, and that’s why the Air Force is proposing it again, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said. In an interview with Air Force Magazine, Welsh asserted, “we cannot afford to stand still and not modernize” in the face of the “emerging technology changes in both Russia and China” and the increasing demands for Air Force capabilities. The “simple fact” of the looming budget sequester means “we are going to be a smaller Air Force. It is critical we become more capable.” Welsh noted that “we have cut a ton of … modernization programs; about 50 percent of our overall portfolio,” and the program presented to Congress is the best mix of “multirole” capabilities. “We can’t keep holding onto everything we’ve had in the past if it’s costing us the ability to modernize and recapitalize,” Welsh argued. “If we can do the mission with the force structure we keep—as we modernize—it’s the right military answer.” He added “we’ve done the operational analysis, we’ve compared it to multiple options and this is the best option in that particular portfolio.” He also noted that the A-10 is not alone—”we’ve cut force structure in every area”—and sequestration will mean “lots of other things … will have to go away. And those discussions will be just as difficult.”