A Deal, not a Grand Compromise

The Air Force and its reserve components have been discussing a “potential compromise” that would resolve the impasse over force structure cuts put forth by the service’s leadership in the Pentagon’s Fiscal 2013 budget proposal, said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley. “We know the days ahead will require us to fine-tune our strategic choices as we follow through on [Fiscal Year] ’13 and FY’14 planning and execution,” said Donley in his Nov. 16 address to AFA’s Global Warfare Symposium in Los Angeles. However, he insisted, “the Air Force will stand firm on our strategic choices . . . trading size to maintain a quality force and staying focused on readiness and modernization.” While Donley said he understands the resistance to force structure reductions, it’s “not possible” to implement the Budget Control Act’s $487 billion defense cut without creating some “real impacts.” The compromise under discussion “restores certain personnel and capabilities originally proposed for reduction, while allowing some retirements and force structure changes to proceed,” he said. The Air Force leadership is discussing options with the state Adjutants General “and others, and [we] hope to gain sufficient support prior to completion of the FY’13 defense bills,” he said. However, Donley told the Daily Report after his speech that the negotiations are going slowly and a deal doesn’t seem close at hand. Moreover, the Air Force is only trying for a deal on the Fiscal 2013 budget; a “grand compromise” that would cover all the potential issues in the future years defense program is probably too ambitious a goal in the time remaining before the 112th Congress adjourns, he said. He declined to say what restorations are being discussed, or what’s on the table, but noted that the reserve components are flexible on trading some missions.