If you listen carefully to USAF’s top enlisted man, the Air Force may now be planning to slash its ranks by another 10,000 personnel, raising the toll from 40,000 to 50,000. The first number was laid down in December by the service’s two top leaders—SECAF Michael Wynne and Gen. Michael Moseley, the CSAF. They said the 40,000-man cut in active, Guard, Reserve, and civilian members would unfold during the period 2006-11, with reductions averaging about 6,800 per year. (Read the transcript here.) However, CMSAF Gerald Murray, in Miami on a tour of US Southern Command units, told airmen that the Air Force will cut “40,000 to 50,000” personnel. Is this merely an imprecise statement, or have Pentagon officials again whacked the Air Force’s budget, forcing an even deeper personnel reduction? No definitive public answer is likely until the budget drops in early February.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.