Defense Secretary Robert Gates has made it no secret that he is rebalancing the Pentagon’s budget and policy to address better the current wars and future irregular conflicts. Along those lines, the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review shows that the Air Force’s irregular capabilities will expand significantly. The review explicitly calls for expanding training and assistance activities in both USAF’s general purpose and special operations forces. In addition to adding new personnel for these purposes, the service is tasked to expand its regionally oriented contingency response groups, or CRGs, so that they “can sustain” their specialized regional and country-specific expertise and “regularly detach experts” to accompany training units deploying abroad. The Air Force will also field “light mobility and light attack aircraft” in general purpose units to increase partnership activities with a wider range of allied militaries, states the document. (QDR 2010)
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.