Politics will ultimately decide whether the Air Force can make some of the vertical cuts it may have to in order to live with budget sequester-level funds, said Gen. Mike Hostage, ACC commander. Speaking with reporters on Sept. 17 at AFA’s 2013 Air and Space Conference, he said he is “not backing away” from the close air support mission, but feels he can’t afford the A-10 as the means of accomplishing it. “The problem,” he said, “comes down to politics.” He continued, “Who’s going to let you do this? There are a lot of A-10s in the Guard. You saw how well we did with Guard force structure cuts in ’13. Those bruises have still not healed. So, if we go the A-10 route . . . how do we go back and assure the states and the governors [that] we’re giving them some other mission?”
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.