Budget sequestration will severely damage Air Force readiness if it is triggered on March 1, states a memo last week from the service’s leadership to Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter. According to the Jan. 7 memo, signed by Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force can no longer simply hope Congress will avoid the postponed sequester and is therefore taking steps to blunt the effects, which in any case will have “immediate and devastating impacts to readiness.” Specifically, since combat units must have top priority, the Air Force will apply the mandated spending cuts to any units not in Afghanistan or spooling up to go there, “sacrificing preparedness for contingencies or [operations plans],” states the memo. The 18-percent reduction would be applied “disproportionately across the force,” causing some units to “stand down for extended periods,” with a possible “flying standdown from late July through September,” wrote Donley and Welsh. To continue to the full report, click here. See also The Readiness Question, a new article from Air Force Magazine that discusses the readiness concerns of Air Force senior leaders.
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.