Needed: Unusual Measures for an Unusual Budget Environment

In testimony before the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel on Tuesday, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh urged lawmakers to pass a defense appropriations bill for the current fiscal year and to prevent budget sequestration from taking effect on March 1. However, if neither of those actions is possible, Welsh called on them “to at least grant us whatever flexibility is possible in terms of reprogramming authority” and “relief from measures like the depot 50-50 rule” and other restrictions “that limit our flexibility to mitigate the significant impacts” of sequestration and a year-long CR. “This is clearly an unusual budget environment, and I believe unusual measures are worth considering this year,” he told the panel during his appearance with the other service Chiefs and National Guard head on Feb. 26. “Our inventory still includes aircraft from the 1950s, and our force is as small as we’ve ever been since becoming a separate service in 1947,” said Welsh. “And now we find ourselves stuck in the unenviable trade space between readiness and modernization. And we need your help to get out,” he added. (Welsh’s prepared remarks)