The fallout from the remarks delivered by Maj. Gen. James Post at a recent gathering of the Air Force’s Tactics Review Board has drawn the ire of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the newly elevated chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Post reportedly told attending airmen that USAF’s budgetary priorities are clear and any airman who engages with their member of Congress unilaterally on matters related to the A-10 could be committing “treason.” The remarks drew condemnation and criticism, but Air Combat Command claims Post is not attempting to restrict airmen from communicating with Congress rather he was attempting to “overemphasize a serious point” regarding USAFs long-term decisions and airmen’s role with regards to advocacy for policy. McCain is now calling on Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James to “conduct an investigation into this issue,” McCain spokesman Dustin Walker told Air Force Magazine, though he did not elaborate on what further action the senator might take. McCain has frequently criticized USAF’s plan to retire the A-10, but has also sought to highlight the damage sequestration-related cuts have incurred on military readiness and modernization. He will hold a hearing this week with the Joint Chiefs to discuss the latter.
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.