Defense officials will consider changes to end strength among a number of program areas that could lose out as the Pentagon develops a new fiscal 2020 budget request that cuts $33 billion from its original $733 billion proposal for national security. The exercise will require the administration to weigh the tradeoffs involved with modifying the department’s original plans for procurement, modernization and capacity, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters last week. “By Monday we’ll have a better feel for which trades the services want to make, whether it’s end strength, or capability or capacity,” he said, reported Defense News. … Mission capable rates for the Air Force’s frontline fighter aircraft are rising as the service adds new maintainers and maintenance shifts in many locations, hires contract maintainers and improves parts availability. “We’re recovering readiness,” Secretary Heather Wilson said Thursday at the Defense One Summit. By the end of the year, the service expects to completely eliminate a shortfall of maintainers which reached 4,000 in 2016, reports Air Force Magazine. In September, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis directed the services to raise the mission capable rates for four fighter jets to 80 percent within 12 months. … The military’s shift in emphasis from tackling violent extremism to great power competition will require changes to DOD’s funding priorities to maintain America’s competitive advantage, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Saturday at the Halifax International Security Forum. Dunford said the nation’s ability to project power and operate across domains of warfare has eroded over the past 15 years. “If we don’t change the trajectory that we have been on, if we don’t have sustained predictable, adequate levels of funding, [and] if we don’t look carefully at those areas where we are challenged … than whoever is in my job in 2023 and 2024 … will probably not have the same confidence in their ability to meet alliance commitments,” he said, reported Defense.gov.
DOD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique Pineiro