The current priority on protecting readiness funding was prompted in part by sequestration, when the services had to shut down training and furlough civilian employees—forcing troops to skip critical exercises, Jamie Morin said Monday at a budget discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Morin, now the director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation for the Pentagon, was the acting undersecretary of the Air Force during sequestration. The service had to stand down Red Flag operations because it was out of money, which means that “the men and women in those units who were scheduled to have that experience didn’t. And may not,” Morin said. “We are an institution made up of a bunch of individual human beings that have to work as a team, and we have to be conscious of the fact that shaking up these kinds of things has consequences.” Morin also pointed out that while the Navy and the Army are set up in a type of tiered readiness—with troops training for deployment, deploying, and then getting some downtime before starting work-ups again—the Air Force has been reluctant to accept that type of cycle.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.