Saturday, November 12, 2011

Washington Perspective -- AFMC cuts, HASC hearing, McCain

AFA members, last week AFMC announced a restructuring to reduce overhead, streamline decision-making processes, and align missions. Not everyone on the Hill received this well. However, this is just a start. The Air Force has announced it will cut 7,600 net civilian billets as its part of the Presidential directed reduction of the DOD budget. This will impact almost every base in the Air Force. Additionally, we know the service will get smaller and not be able to do many of the things they are now doing. Both the Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the Air Force have said they will avoid any notion of a hollow force. SECDEF Panetta has announced he will look at higher TRICARE fees, fewer troops, and more base closings. Plus he said DOD is also looking at cuts to the nation’s nuclear arsenal and to the F-35 program. Panetta also made clear that our defense strategy will include a shift in US focus to the Pacific.

Secondly, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) testified before the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) on the Future of the Military Services and the Consequences of Defense Sequestration. [Sequestration would occur if the Super Committee does not come to an agreement on where to cut our deficit.] The result of Sequestration would be another $450B+ cut in defense spending (over 10 years) on top of the President-directed $450B+ cut being planned now. The JCS were unanimous in their concern on the effect of such additional cuts. We have put a few summary quotations on our website at: On the same day the Operations Deputies also testified before the HASC Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces. Lt Gen Carlisle was the AF witness. You can find selected quotes from his testimony at:

Finally, the Congressional Budget Office scored the Sen McCain proposals on TRICARE. AFA’s Daily Report contained some, but not all of the details. McCain’s recommendations would drastically cut military health benefits for all retirees under age 65. First, it would bar retiree participation in TRICARE Prime. Second, it would impose an annual enrollment fee for TRICARE Standard – that looks to us like about $1,500 for a single retiree and $3,500 for a retired family. It would also prevent TRICARE from being a secondary payer for beneficiaries who have civilian employer coverage. Finally, it would raise the annual catastrophic cap on out-of-pocket expenses to $7,500 per family vs. the current $3,000. Total savings from McCain’s proposals appear to be over $100B. The deficit is serious business, but … the Air Force Association believes we should not balance the budget on the backs of those who are fighting and have fought for our nation and its security. If you agree, I’d ask that you send a note to your Members of Congress citing your concerns. The best way to get mail to them is to use regular mail (not email) and mail it to their home offices.

For your consideration.


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association


Anonymous said...

Suggest AFA adopt the MOAA model of providing pre-prepared letters that can be sent by AFA members to their Senators and Congressmen either via email link or by printing the letter, signing it and sending it by snail mail. This system works well, insuring mass mailings by the membership at critical times during policy debates.

Anonymous said...

Senator McCain is overdue for retirement from public office. More and more he has demonstrated his lack of support for military members and their sacrifices as he once did in the past. Considering he was once a POW, he has lost his perspective on what military members sacrificed while on active duty.

Gary McIlnay, LtCol. USAF (Retired) said...

I can't believe (actually, yes I can) that Congress wants to take benefits away from veterans to help reduce our defect while lavishing federal funds on illegal aliens---especially my money which I contributed to Social Security.
What a sad, sad day for this country and the veterans who serve and have served to protect it.