Well-thought-out analysis of options, consequences, and risks should drive the Defense Department’s upcoming review of its missions and capabilities to identify future budget savings, said Defense Secretary Robert Gates. “I want to frame this so that it’s not a math exercise, but so people understand the strategic and national security consequences of the decisions that [the President and Congress are] making,” Gates told reporters last week during a Pentagon press conference. He added, “What I hope to do is frame this in a way that says: If you want to cut this number of dollars, here are the consequences for force structure.” President Obama has directed the review to help identify where the Pentagon could shed up to $400 billion in total from its budget by 2023 to help reduce the federal deficit. The review “won’t be a mini QDR,” but might take scenarios from the Quadrennial Defense Review and “translate those into forces” and then show the implications if one cuts those forces, said Gates during the April 21 press conference. (Gates-Cartwright transcript)
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.