If the Iraq War debate between Congress and the Administration delays the supplemental funding bill, USAF’s immediate plan is to “roll forward” fourth quarter 2007 funds to cover the gap, a senior service official said Monday. A prolonged delay posits two unappetizing options for USAF. The first would be to scrape down “thinly” by making a small percentage cut in all accounts, hoping for a financial rescue later in the year. The senior USAF leadership doesn’t want to do that, though, because “that then becomes your baseline” for the 2009 future years budget plan, “and you’ll never get that back,” the official said. The second, and preferred, option would be to “shut some things down,” the official said. “Things” refers to such programs as exercises like Red Flag and operational readiness inspections. If that happened, he said the Air Force would spare those units that are relying on such activities to spin up for their next deployment. The leadership prefers this draconian step because such event suspensions are more clearly temporary in nature and easier to restore later.
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.