The commander of the US Southern Command questioned the value of some of Congress’ proposed changes to the Goldwater-Nichols defense reform law, particularly the proposal that would merge his command with US Northern Command and create joint task forces instead of service component commands within the regional combatant commands. Responding to questions at an Atlantic Council forum late on July 13, Adm. Kurt Tidd noted that his career has been shaped by the law’s requirements that senior officers serve in joint assignments, which most of his flag officer duties have been. “I cannot imagine a situation where we would want to turn our backs on that,” he said. Tidd argued that merging the two commands into a hemispheric unit would not save much money and the two have vastly different mission. Southern Command is largely focused on building relationships in the region, while Northern Command is “fully focused on defending the country. … I think the American people want us to defend the nation, but they also want us to build partnerships.” If a joint task force replaced the service components, Tidd said, someone else would have to assume the mission to organize, train, and equip forces for the region, resulting in no savings.
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.