The Air Force Council meets Thursday to evaluate a number of potential cost-saving moves under consideration to meet savings targets mandated by Defense Secretary Robert Gates (see Donley Aims to Protect Force Structure above). Options reportedly on the table include early retirement of all B-1B bombers. The Lancers have been worked hard with great effect in Afghanistan in recent years, and have received many capability upgrades. There’s also talk of possible further reductions in fighter wings on top of the 250-aircraft cut already being made in Fiscal 2010. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, asked Wednesday about such considerations during a Capitol Hill speech, declined to comment on specifics. “We’re still in the middle of our deliberations,” he said. But he pointedly wouldn’t rule out further force structure reductions.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.