New Contingencies a Problem

The Air Force is struggling with how it would meet combat commitments after October—if the sequester persists into Fiscal 2014—and may not be able to respond if a new crisis hits, said Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh. Speaking with reporters at the Pentagon on May 24, Welsh said “we’re looking at the reality of next year’s expectations for deployment support” in Afghanistan, studying “where would be the biggest impacts if we continued to have squadrons not flying at full mission-capable rates.” He said the Air Force is talking with combatant commanders and the Joint Staff “to make sure everybody fully understands” what the service can reasonably deliver given its funding limits. In the current fiscal year, the Air Force is executing “the missions that we know about and that we’re committed to,” but “we are funding the known and taking risk in the area of the unknown,” warned Welsh. “New contingencies could be a problem for us,” he said. He also noted that “our readiness continues to decline, even while calls for potential no-fly zone or air policing operations in response to Syrian violence are reaching a new crescendo.” (Donley-Welsh transcript)