Congress Champions the Direct Approach

Lawmakers told the Air Force to maintain 40 tactical airlifters in Fiscal 2013 to meet the Army’s time-sensitive, direct-support delivery needs, according to language they included in the conference report for this fiscal year’s defense authorization bill. They also want the Air Force to ensure that the employment concept for this direct support is “wholly incorporated” into the Air Force’s doctrine, strategy, and tactics by June 2013, states the report, released on Dec. 18. Among the 40 airlifters will be eight C-130s that the Air Force leadership identified for this purpose in the revised force structure proposal that it put forth to Congress in November, states the report. They remaining 32 aircraft—either C-130s, or C-27Js, or a combination of both—will come from the pool of airframes that the leadership had identified for retirement in that proposal, according to the report. The lawmakers gave the Air Force Secretary the discretion to decide upon the mix. The Air Force’s revised proposal was less severe than the service’s original force structure plan, which Congress did not embrace. (See also Winners and Losers and Spartans Bring Power to New York.)