Welcome to the Hollow Force

The March deployment of stealthy F-22s and B-2s to South Korea was an effective use of airpower—North Korea’s belligerent tone softened—but it also highlighted how complex air operations can be and why readiness is so critical. “Think about putting together a mission that starts in the United States and goes literally halfway around the world,” said Lt. Gen. Burton Field, deputy chief of staff for operations, plans, and requirements, of the 37-hour B-2 roundtrip to South Korea. “That’s not an easy thing,” he said. Unfortunately, because of budget sequestration, many Air Force crews are falling out of proficiency, and fewer units are ready and available for short-notice operations. This is the new hollow force, and it’s going to be around for a while. The service’s top leaders say their options are limited if a new war breaks out. If Congress won’t reverse the sequester before the end of September, the situation will likely get much, much worse. For our complete coverage, continue to Welcome to the Hollow Force, an article in the forthcoming September issue of Air Force Magazine.