And Now, Modernization

The Air Force has struggled to protect modernization during the hard times of sequester, but is now finding itself reaching into that pot, as well, to cover the bills. Lt. Gen. Burton Field, deputy chief of staff for operations, plans, and requirements, said Thursday the Air Force, given the authority to reprogram funds, would dip into modernization accounts in order to “meet all of our commitments to combatant commanders and invest, as possible, in training.” In an AFA-Air Force Breakfast Program speech in Arlington, Va., he noted that the Air Force has a “shortfall” of $1.8 billion in the overseas contingency operations account—war funding—and would do whatever is necessary to support combat forces in the field. Talking with reporters after his May 23 talk, he said “a lot of it”—meaning the reprogramming—comes out of modernization, but he couldn’t be more specific. The Air Force badly needs the reprogramming authority, he said. But “it’s not that people think this is all good news; we’re delaying something we need,” said Field. Modernization, he said, is future readiness, so the two accounts shouldn’t be traded against each other as if they were separate.