The Necessity of a Shrinking Air Force

The Navy is spending more on its aircraft programs than the Air Force in the Fiscal 2015 budget, while at the same time, USAF is divesting entire fleets and pushing modernization dollars to the right. Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh acknowledged this trend is creating some uncertainty in the force as airmen are seeing aircraft and missions potentially disappearing in a very short period of time. But it is the only way to get to a sustainable force, he said Wednesday during a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. “Airmen who join the Air Force join it for lots of reasons,” he said. “They get proud of who they are and what they do, just like the folks in other services,” he added. “That’s what our airmen are looking for,” and if they can’t keep that pride they will leave. “One of the things we are trying to do in the Air Force is we are trying to balance our force at a size where we can afford to train and operate it,” Welsh said. Sequestration is the law, and in 2016 those funding levels will return. “If that happens, we cannot operate and train our Air Force at the size we have now. We have to downsize,” he said. That is why USAF is moving out on force management programs as soon as possible, so it can “get past the trauma” of the next 12-15 months. After that, “whoever is in the Air Force at that point in time, [can] start to focus on the future.”