Stepping Up to the Plate

Funding for the Defense Department is about 30 percent higher than it was in 1985 at the height of the Cold War, but that funding boost hasn’t been distributed equally across the services, said Under Secretary of the Air Force Erin Conaton. Citing data collected by RAND after a review of DOD’s budget since 1948, Conaton said the Army also is above its 1985 level by about 63 percent. However, the “Blue” Air Force, which doesn’t include joint funding, is down 20 percent. The Navy is down about four percent, she said. “We are also a smaller force. In the last seven years, our active duty end strength has dropped from 359,000 in 2004 to 332,800 today. Yet, with fewer budgetary resources and end strength, the Air Force has stepped up to a number of additional missions,” said Conaton. Those include the addition of roughly 6,000 ISR personnel, over 2,000 each for both special operations and the nuclear enterprise. “This reflects the Secretary and Chief’s deep commitment to winning today’s fight and supporting the joint force,” said Conaton Tuesday at AFA’s Air & Space Conference. “I mention this to show that our airmen have continuously stepped up to what the nation and the joint force asked of them. And, we will continue to do that going forward,” she said.