US Airlift Capacity Under Strain Because of Fiscal Cuts

Gen. Darren McDew, commander of US Transportation Command, told Congress Thursday that US air mobility is currently operating with “greater risk than I believe we should take.” The problem arises from an Air Force decision to place two squadrons of C-17s and eight C-5s “in backup inventory” over the past few years. McDew told the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee that this was “purely a fiscal decision” by the Air Force. As a result, “our capacity on the lift side is being challenged.” McDew said the current plan is to bring those aircraft back into the Guard and Reserve force “as the Air Force can afford them.” He told the committee, however, that he would prefer they return to the Active Duty force “so that they’re readily available more quickly.” He said returning the C-5s to Active status is the No. 1 priority for his mission.