Budget Shell Games

Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning said the Fiscal 2015 budget “is going to upset a lot of people,” but sequestration is forcing the Air Force to shrink in order to preserve modernization and readiness. Speaking Nov. 14 at the Defense One Summit in Washington, D.C., Fanning said he is worried about how the sequester-induced “new normal” is affecting the service’s budget planning. In the past, USAF would have gone into Fiscal 2014 building a 2015 budget. Today, Air Force budget planners are building two budgets simultaneously in an effort to cover multiple scenarios ranging from continuing resolutions to another year of full sequestration. Instead of planning year to year, the Air Force is now going “quarter to quarter,” Fanning added. “It makes it hard to focus on executing,” he said. The budget crunch also is forcing the Pentagon to focus more on mission priorities, said Fanning. That means the Air Force needs to decide what missions it will “go after,” said Fanning. However, in the past the service has not been very good at cutting mission areas, he noted.