Sequestration is only part of the challenges facing the Defense Department, said Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), House Armed Services Committee chairman. Other pressing issues include adjusting military pensions, revising DOD’s health care system, and basing, but because of the crisis surrounding sequestration, there is no suitable climate for talking about those much-needed reforms, he told defense reporters during a meeting in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 15. “All of that has to be looked at,” said McKeon, which is why he has offered legislation to put off the sequester for a year and pay for it mostly through reductions in the federal civil service. “I’ve been so consumed with playing defense, I haven’t been able to work on some things we need to look at,” said McKeon. “We’re going to have to look at a lot of different things, but we need a different environment,” he said. (For more on the legislation McKeon referenced, read Playing the Blame Game.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.