"Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, it is an honor to be here with you, and with my fellow colleagues. I know we are all committed to the defense of the nation, those who serve and have served, and their supporting loved ones.
"AFA supports work resulting in a compensation package for our all-volunteer force allowing us to recruit and retain the quality of Total Force Airmen our national security demands
"Our Airmen and retirees deserve every dollar they earn. However, military compensation costs continue to climb at unsustainable rates, and, if not addressed, they will consume our warfighting spending over the next few decades. We must find ways to slow the rate of growth in compensation costs."These are challenging times. The force is coming home from thirteen years of war...actually over two decades for the United States Air Force...to a nation that is struggling with pervasive financial crises. And we understand this. Yet...this nation's global national security commitments and obligations continue to increase in scope and complexity.
"This combined with DoD's ever increasing resource constraints have brought about a new reality.
"Recognizing this environment of change, AFA seeks to join you in your efforts to find the right solutions as we examine retirement and compensation.
"We understand this Commission was formed to address rising personnel costs in a defense budget in which readiness and modernization accounts are under intense pressure. More importantly, we should not break faith with our Active Duty, Air National Guard, Reserves and family members, and grandfather in all who have served.
"We need bold leadership to make tough choices through an informed decision-making process. Timely and accurate data via surveys will be required to discover what today’s service members value, and where we may find innovative ways to meet their needs."AFA urges a whole-of-government approach where an enterprise-level, broad-based, human capital focus is the starting point for reform. Congress should be just as diligent examining the entire federal employment and benefits system as it is focused on our men and women in uniform.
"However, with last year's grounding of 13 combat squadrons, lost opportunities for real-world training and numerous course cancellations, our Air Force is at a crossroads. We are at a place where we must decide what kind of Air Force we need to fight and win our nation’s wars. Do we want to retain an Air Force that continues to be second-to-none? Sending Airmen to battle without the best training and equipment we can give them could imperil the mission and jeopardize lives. This is why our work here today is important. No matter how these issues play out, we at AFA want to be a part of the solution, and we welcome this discussion.
"AFA, its members, stakeholders and, indeed our Airmen, are committed to keeping faith with the American people, by providing them with an Air Force that is capable, ready and resourced appropriately for the future.
"I look forward to your questions."