While combatant commanders around the globe are working to match operations funding with their requirements, Pacific Air Forces officials took a collaborative approach to keep one high-profile mission going: the rotational bomber presence on Guam, said Maj. Gen. Russ Handy, PACAF’s director of operations, plans, requirements, and programs. “We got into a conversation with Air Force Global Strike Command, US Pacific Command, and 8th Air Force, and we took a global view of [the Guam rotations],” Handy told the Daily Report on May 8. Those organizations looked at the bomber force, what kind of training the wings were slated to get, and what each organization’s priorities were, along with how operations and maintenance funds from various pots could be put to best use, he said. “We came to the conclusion that we were going to keep those rotations going, [because] it meets a requirement, and it gives us an ability to respond to events,” said Handy. He noted that the bombers were a large strategic factor during the recent tensions with North Korea, as Guam-stationed B-52s participated in joint drills with the South Koreans over South Korea. Handy indicated that collaboration between the Air Force and combatant commanders, as well as allies, would be a key part of maintaining readiness as sequestration presses on. This includes utilizing the improving capabilities of certain allies for “theater readiness” as opposed to localized capability, he said. (For more from Handy’s interview, read Sequester Pressuring PACAF’s Readiness and Engagement.)
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.