The congressionally mandated commission on the Air Force’s structure heard testimony from AFA President Craig McKinley as well as leaders from the Adjutants General Association, National Guard Association, and Reserve Officers Association during its first public hearing on Tuesday on Capitol Hill. The three-hour hearing covered a wide range of topics from personnel to equipment to a more sustainable deployment tempo. The commission already has met with Air Force leaders and congressional staffers to discuss background information on the Air Force’s existing structure. Commission Chairman retired Marine Lt. Gen. Dennis McCarthy said those meetings were not open to the public because they included some classified information; however, there will be several public hearings across the United States over the next few months. The next public hearing will be on June 17 in Greenville, N.C., followed by one on June 26 in Arlington, Va., said McCarthy. At the June 4 hearing, James Blackwell, the commission’s executive director, told the Daily Report that the panel is still operating with a bare-bones crew—just five staff members to support the eight commissioners. However, he said he hopes to grow the staff to about 30 to 40 individuals by the end of June. (See also Open for Business.)
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.