Air Force Readiness Threatened by Budget Cuts, Chief Says
The deep budget cuts imposed under sequestration would severely undermine the readiness of the Air Force, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh told lawmakers this week.
“Roughly two-thirds of our active-duty combat Air Force units will curtail home station training, beginning in March, and will drop below acceptable readiness levels by mid-May,” Welsh told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
“Most will be completely non-mission capable by July,” he said. In total, officials would be forced to cancel about 200,000 flying hours in fiscal 2013, reported American Forces Press Service.
Readiness wouldn’t be the only element affected by sequestration, which would require DOD to find up to $500 billion in savings through FY 2021.
“Sequestration threatens to carve crucial capability from America’s Air Force, with alarming and immediate effects on people, readiness and infrastructure, and, eventually, on modernization,” Welsh said.
On Thursday, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter stressed that the impact of the forced spending reductions would be felt in communities across the nation and not just at the Pentagon.
“A lot of people think that DOD civilians are people who wake up in the Washington suburbs, get in a car, and drive up [Interstate] 395 and come to an office building here,” Carter told the Senate Appropriations Committee. “They’re not. Most of them work in depots. They fix airplanes. They maintain ships and overhaul ships.”
Carter said 86 percent of DOD civilian employees don’t even live in the Washington area, and 44 percent of them are veterans, reported American Forces Press Service. In April the department plans to begin furloughs of civilian employees for up to 22 days through the end of the fiscal year, he said.