Kendall: Air Force POM “Balanced”

The Air Force’s budget through the 2020s—which includes a new fighter, tanker, bomber, trainer, and ground-mapping radar aircraft—is “reasonably balanced” and “still affordable,” the Pentagon’s acquisition, technology, and logistics chief said Wednesday. Frank Kendall, speaking at the COMDEF 2014 conference in Washington, D.C., said the services turned in their Program Objective Memoranda, or budget proposals, on Tuesday. The Air Force “is in relatively good shape,” Kendall said, although USAF needs space and nuclear weapons improvements, which “we have to do,” that apparently aren’t fully funded in the plan. “We’re going to have to figure out how we’re going to fit those in,” he added. USAF Secretary Deborah Lee James recently said she’d ask the Office of the Secretary of Defense for extra money to fund strategic modernization because it’s a “national” mission and shouldn’t necessarily be funded out of USAF’s regular budget. Kendall praised USAF for making “difficult tradeoffs,” moving to cut force structure and personnel to buy what it needs. He acknowledged USAF performs missions like airlift, missile warning, and satellite communications, “which are very important to the department” but may not be viewed as combat roles. “In that environment, I think [the] Air Force has tried its best to preserve a balance,” Kendall said. However, he is concerned that non-platform needs, such as electronic warfare, missile systems, and wide-area communications, may not be getting the attention they deserve.