air force budget priorities
Image Credit: The Blaze

air force budget priorities
Image Credit: The Blaze

I was contacted on Friday and told that the Air Force is making good on its promise to cut 25,000 Airmen due to budgetary constraints. The source stated that the top brass received a communication on Thursday detailing the cuts. Look for an official statement by the Air Force soon.

This should come as no surprise. The Air Force Times reported on December 30th:

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh has repeatedly warned that the Air Force could have to cut 25,000 airmen over the next five years if the sequester continues. A budget deal would lessen the sequester’s effects, but it remains to be seen whether that would allow the Air Force to spare some airmen.

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The sequester also will deal a blow to retraining opportunities and re-enlistment bonuses in 2014 as the Air Force trims its ranks. In November, the Air Force announced it has dropped 46 career fields from the list of jobs eligible for selective re-enlistment bonuses in 2014. Ten career fields kept their bonuses.

And retraining opportunities for 710 airmen in 44 specialties have been dropped for 2014. Staff sergeants have lost the most retraining opportunities.

The Air Force also said in November that changes to enlisted and officer promotion rates are in the works but has not released details on those plans.

With the budget deal on the way to Obama’s desk it remains doubtful that this deal is enough to change or delay the Air Force plans. After the House version of the spending bill was passed, Federal News Radio noted that the budget would not likely be enough to forego painful cuts:

Among what will be the hardest changes to sell to lawmakers: the Air Force has already made clear that it believes it will likely have to deactivate entire fleets of aircraft in order to meet requirements of the Budget Control Act, especially types that have a limited number of roles and missions.

The A-10 attack jet is mentioned frequently, although Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff, said the service chiefs haven’t made decisions on any particular airframes.

“Without regard to any specific airplane, how do you save dollars that have a ‘B’ after them, instead of amounts of dollars that have a ‘M’ after them? And to do that you have to start talking about fleet divestitures, because you have to get rid of the infrastructure behind the aircraft — the logistics tail, the supply systems, the facilities that do all the logistical support, depot maintenance, etc. That’s where you create big savings,” Welsh said. “So to find $12 billion a year, we have to look at chunks of money. That’s why we’re having this discussion. There are proponents for a whole lot of systems, and I agree with all of them. But somebody has to balance this. And I believe that’s our job.”

The Air Force also is developing plans to downsize its force, both uniformed and civilian. Last week, the service announced that it would trim its civilian workforce by 900 positions during 2014 and leave another 7,000 unfilled jobs vacant.

It is being reported that the defense budget for 2014 comes in at $39.6 billion less than the Obama Administration had requested. Keeping in mind what we have seen in the past, this does not bode well for our military. Remember that Barack Obama has been cutting military command to his liking. And he has also been accused in the past of telling his subordinates to make cuts hurt.

Knowing what we know about our commander-in-chief, I would be quite surprised if anything can be done to avert far reaching military cuts that go beyond our Air Force. I believe that our president wants it that way.

So is the new spending bill that now sits on Barack Obama’s desk enough to save 25,000 airmen?

My source says no.