Back From the Future

The Air Force is looking 10 years ahead to see what capabilities it must have in 2023 and will work backwards from that to see how it must build its budgets for the next few years, according to Lt. Gen. Michael Moeller, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs. This method is “fundamentally different” from how the service built budgets before, said Moeller on Tuesday at an AFA-Air Force Breakfast Program event in Arlington, Va. Given the financial constraints now and soon to come, “if you look five years out and you know at least three of them are spent repairing readiness, then you better look out further,” he said. Moeller said he expects that it will “probably take us three or four years to re-invest in readiness to make sure that it’s up to the levels our nation demands.” He said he counts readiness not only as tasks like the deferred engine and aircraft maintenance that will flow from the budget sequester, but also activities such as “full-spectrum training.” The Air Force has deficits in the latter because it couldn’t adequately practice high-end warfare while fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We under-invested in readiness for the last five, six [years],” said Moeller. The new strategy will “inform” the Fiscal 2015 five-year budget program and help ensure that the Air Force doesn’t invest in anything now that it will have to “divest” later, he said during his March 12 talk.