Numbers Don’t Add Up

At a special House Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday to review Air Force strategic initiatives, panel chairman Ike Skelton (R-Mo.) reminded panel members that USAF has been engaged in Iraq-related operations for 17 years, but he maintained that the “strain on the Air Force is not currently as severe as it is for the Army.” He did add that the strain on USAF “is still significant.” In particular he expressed concern about USAF’s plan to cut 40,000 personnel for two reasons: first, as noted above, it’s not achieving the savings USAF needs to fund modernization, and second, there’s the matter of the Army and Marine Corp personnel increase. Skelton said, “The Air Force appears to be short of the people needed to support a larger ground force.” The Air Force has been waiting for hard numbers and a growth plan from the land services, but it would appear that the drawdown to an end strength of around 316,000 in 2009 may be cut short.