Expect to Pay More

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz warned Tuesday that personnel costs are “simply … not sustainable,” and the service is having to carefully weigh changes in compensation and benefits as part of its cost-cutting program. In his speech to AFA’s Air & Space Conference, he said healthcare costs alone will consume 10 percent of the defense budget by 2015, but he pledged that the Air Force will “keep faith with our airmen and families.” Schwartz also said changes are due for the retirement system, suggesting something that is “contributory and more portable” will make sense. While the economy is in poor shape now—leading to unprecedented retention—eventually it will come back, and USAF will again have to compete hard for quality people, he said. Even so, making personnel cost reductions now, “no matter how difficult” will “put our successors in a better place.”