To ensure it has easily accessible and more readily deployable reserve forces, the Pentagon wants them “operationalized,” per the Quadrennial Defense Review. That term and a QDR-noted increase in mobilization authority from 270 days to 365 days have raised eyebrows among some lawmakers. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), ranking minority member on the Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee, asked Pentagon officials what assurance Congress would have that such an extension would not be used to “circumvent the 24-month cumulative month limit?” Pentagon Reserve Affairs chief Thomas Hall said that the expansion would not affect the 24-month time and called upon National Guard Bureau chief, Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, to explain why reserve leaders believe the expansion would provide “more flexibility.” Blum said he supports the increase to 365 days to “provide a slightly wider window” to reduce the risk commanders face because they’re “racing against a calendar.” However, Blum cautioned against abusing what he sees as a “magnificent tool.”
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.