Defense Secretary Robert Gates believes the one word that best describes the new National Defense Strategy he released last week is “balance.” The strategy, he told Pentagon reporters July 31, strikes a “balance between the range of capabilities to prevail in persistent asymmetric or irregular conflict and sustaining our conventional and strategic force superiority as a hedge against rising powers.” In his view, the current modernization programs for those systems to stave off rising powers are “strongly supported” by the services, Congress, and Gates and have an “overwhelming preponderance” of the procurement and R&D dollars in the Fiscal 2009 budget. Now, he says, we must “find a long-term place in the base budget” for those capabilities needed for asymmetric conflict. Gates did not use the term “next-war-itis” that he used earlier this year to pillory military leaders who he said were too-focused on conventional war, instead focusing on taking the middle road, that is, as he said, “We must be ready for both kinds of conflict and fund the capabilities to do both.” However, when push comes to shove, he believes the most likely future conflict will be asymmetric. (Press briefing transcript) (National Defense Strategy)
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.