Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Secretary Donley Pens Series on Defense Challenges

Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley penned a series of four opinion pieces on the future of the Air Force. Such a series -- written by the most senior civilian for the Air Force -- has said to be unprecedented, hinting at the severity of the challenges that await.
The series addresses some of the defense issues relating to the Air Force that Secretary Donley believes lie ahead, which include the difficulties in convincing Congress to let him retire planes and find the right balance of active, Reserve, and Air National Guard forces; how to replace an aging aircraft fleet without breaking the bank; and how to keep planes and people in the air, ready to fly and fight.

From AOL Defense:

In more than 15 years covering the US military, I don't remember a senior Pentagon official penning a series like this, and we are honored to run it. The series is, I think, an indication of just how deeply worried senior defense officials are about the future. Sequestration isn't really fixed, despite last week's momentary spasm of rationality on Capitol Hill. Defense budgets are likely to continue dropping over the next five years at a time when America faces enormous and widespread national security challenges – Iran, Syria, North Korea, a wobbly European Union, China,global warming, Al Qaeda and its friends – and those are a few of the ones we know about.

Sec. Donley On The Air Force's Budgetary Balancing Act: EXCLUSIVE
By Secretary Michael B. Donley

Since coming to Washington in 1978, I watched from vantage points including Capitol Hill, the White House, and the Pentagon as the defense budget rose dramatically during the Reagan buildup and then declined after Operation Desert Storm as part of the post-Cold War "peace dividend." Now the cycle is repeating again as higher post-9/11 defense budgets driven by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan begin to recede and our nation focuses on getting its fiscal house in order.

While still supporting ongoing combat operations in Afghanistan, confronting immediate security challenges throughout the greater Middle East, and putting greater focus on the Pacific, we ask ourselves: How should the Department of Defense balance competing defense needs among the size of our force structure, today's readiness and modernization for the future?

From our collective experience in the 1970s, the generation of defense leaders with whom I serve learned that during periods of fiscal austerity, tough decisions have to be made to avoid a hollow military. I define this as one that looks good on paper, but has more units and equipment than it can support, lacks the resources to adequately man, train and maintain them, or keep up with advancing technologies.

Confronted today by a more complex and dynamic security environment, as well as a significant reduction in defense resources, Air Force leadership determined the best path forward is to become smaller in order to protect a high quality and ready force that will improve in capability over time.

In devising our fiscal 2013 defense budget and planning for the years after, we decided we must get smaller to ensure a fully trained and ready force that maintains the scope of capabilities and flexibility to engage a full range of contingencies and threats. The 2011 Libya operation reminded us that in today's security environment the Air Force must be ready to respond to rapidly emerging crises. We simply do not have months to prepare or to rebuild the readiness of an unready force.

Read the full article at AOL Defense >>

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