The Air Force saw an uptick in its share of the 2016 defense budget, relative to the other services, and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said that was due to two things. In an interview with Air Force Magazine just after the budget was submitted to Congress last week, Welsh said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stepped “into the nuclear issue and (is) taking, in my view, a pretty strong view that we needed to get serious about investment, over time” in nuclear forces. Also, Welsh observed, Hagel and President Obama “said ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) is a critical resource” in America’s current fights. “It has become the coin of the realm (and) the Air Force provides quite a bit of it … And so, I think all of those things helped in terms of a plus-up to the budget,” Welsh said. He cautioned, though, that it’s all pipe dreams if the sequester goes back in force in ’16. “If we drop to the Budget Control Act caps … a lot of that money goes away,” he noted.
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S. The bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.