The House Armed Services Committee’s version of the defense authorization bill, which takes $18 billion from the overseas contingency operations fund and uses it for base budget expenses, is “deeply troubling and flawed for several reasons,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee on Wednesday. The approach proposed by HASC Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) “is gambling with war fighting money at a time of war,” Carter said, because it does not fund OCO for the entire fiscal year. “It buys force structure without the money to sustain it and keep it ready, effectively creating [a] hollow force structure,” and it doesn’t address the looming threat of sequestration, Carter added. “It is a step in the direction of unraveling the bipartisan budget act … and it is another road to nowhere with uncertain chances of ever becoming law,” he said.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.