Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Note from AFA President -- Mitchell Institute event

Last Friday we held a Mitchell Institute event at AFA headquarters.  Todd Harrison from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) presented a brief entitled:  "$trategy in a Year of Fiscal Uncertainty."  [You can find the briefing here:]  
What I found interesting about Mr. Harrison's brief was slide 4.  On it he points out the cut to the Defense budget was $5.2B for FY13.  The Air Force paid for $4.8B of that ... and the Army's budget actually grew by $700M.
But ... if you look at the "adjusted" chart on the right side of the slide, DOD actually shifted Army manpower from the Army budget into the war budget -- about 49,000 soldiers.  So in reality, the Department of the Navy budget grew; the Army budget grew significantly -- by some 4%; and the Air Force was significantly cut.
The reason this is important is the new strategic guidance of the DOD calls for increased reliance on Airpower and sea power, while not projecting vulnerability and attrition that occurs with an occupying ground force.  The Association believes the strategy is on-target ... but ... as Mr. Harrison points out, the Administration did not fund that strategy in the FY13 budget. 
It's important that budgetary decisions follow strategic guidance ... and in this case it did not.
For your consideration.

Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association
“The only thing more expensive than a first-rate Air Force is … a second-rate Air Force.”  --  Senate staff member


Anonymous said...

A budget is a plan of action expressed in dollars. Airpower is always the most important part of the plan.

Vance48 said...


Thanks for your comments on Todd's briefing. The existing DOD budget approach won't stand up on the Hill, but we must be acting now to fire up our political engine to help Congress understand the options that give us more bang for the buck while staying true to the Air Power-Sea Power vision for our future force. Thanks for being on the FEBA, Mike. Keep moving forward!

Todd framed most of the budget story very well and his options deserve consideration. But, I called him to chat about one flaw in slide four. He stated that moving capabilities into the National Guard and Reserve would reduce costs. This is on target, if not understated.

What Todd got wrong was his "old think" contention that the National Guard "Cannot mobilize as quickly or support the same rotation rate" as the federal standing military. This is off target (even for Army Guard forces).

Mission tasking is a policy judgment. The Guard will respond as tasked. History has taught us the Air National Guard and the USAFR can handle ANY mission and ANY response timing or rotation requirement…and at a bargain cost to the American taxpayer with no loss of capability. These forces can and MUST mobilize exactly like federal standing military forces and could, if required, sustain the same rotation rate. The Army Guard, too, can rise to any deployment cycle tasked.

In fact, the high experience level of the Air National Guard and the Reserve, especially in the maintenance field and the cockpit, suggest they are a preferred capability, not a second class fallback capability or filler force. They are an operational reserve that remains engaged globally.

Anonymous said...

The recent decision to close the 911th Airlift Wing, one of the best performing and most cost effective reserve wings in the USAF appears to ignore cost savings and operability arguments the AF needs to examine in response to a resource reduced environment. The decision is being challenged in Congress due to the lack of supporting documentation to justify the unilateral closure of a Wing with over 300 full time civilian employee authorizations and well over 1000 reservists.

Air Force credibility is called into question when the intellectual service was unable to provide data to suport any sort of decision for this one comparatively simple action. This does not bode well for the AF if they appear to engage in cowboy type decision making of shooting first and asking questions later.

Vance48 said...

(continued) Mike, when I was Director of Operations and Programs for the ANG, 25 percent of my force was on duty 24/7/365, and that was true in "peacetime" and will likely be a higher percentage today because of the National Guard State Partnership Program.

When war came in 1991, we mobilized thousands more without reducing our normal OPTEMPO or failing to give full support for one State requirement. We were ready for anything because that was our constitutional job. Today, it’s the same; and we are still at war.

You will recall that when we first met 20 years ago at USEUCOM a major drawdown was being initiated. In fact, General Shali and General McCarthy had called me to help break through the challenges of Guard and Reserve sustained operations in European Command’s theater. US forces in Europe were drawing down from 350,000 to 115,000 but the mission was increasing. CINCEUR needed the Guard and Reserve to take up the slack. My job was to bring the assets to the task without breaking the Guard and Reserve.

This was easy to do because it meant giving an important mission to the National Guard. This is the secret of ARC engagement. The folks at home base strongly wish to use their expertise for “real” missions, especially OCONUS missions. Naturally, it helped to have two 4 Star bosses and good friends like you for support.

Mike, we succeeded in EUCOM and set the standard for employing the entire Reserve Component more aggressively and more globally. Turns out the EUCOM saga was a prelude to conflict in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan (sad, but true).

It is interesting to note that we brought the National Guard State Partnership Program to USEUCOM as a tool for stability and mentoring operations, a template for Soft Power engagement. Back in Washington, the State Partnership Program had been fought by the Services (resources, not-our-jobism, and not invented here), shrugged at by State (resources, roles, Ambassadors, and not invented here), and non-supported by almost everybody in OSD (roles, missions, resources, not invented here, and “Help them!!? We don’t want to help them. We want all their T-2s east of the Urals, their armies completely in chaos, their economies in ruin, and Russia engulfed in The Mother of all Civil Wars!”). Today, this National Guard program started by two Guard guys, one Army and one Air, in my E Ring office in 1990, is praised by the US Government and around the world.

I arrived at USEUCOM as a Guard guy who knew nobody in the command but you and two 4-Stars. But, I was backed by every warrior in the Guard and Reserve. We departed Patch Barracks leaving a European Command Reserve Affairs (ECRA) that had grown from one guy (ECRA #1) into a growing staff with a General Officer assigned to manage the flow of what has become thousands of Guard and Reservists employed in our AOR each year. In fact, General Craig McKinley, Chief of the National Guard Bureau and the first 4-Star Guardsman, was ECRA when he was a Major General.

None of our team success would have been possible without the strongest support by General Shali and General McCarthy. They gave me a vision of the desired outcome and got out of the way to let the Guard and Reserve do the work.

Mike, someone with their statesmanship and guts is needed now to push for exploiting the Guard, not as a cash cow, but as an airpower savior.

You can be that strong voice, Mike. The ANG has what it takes now, just as it always has, to help our Service—the United States Air Force—thrive and prosper.