The Big Bill Payers

The Fiscal 2017 Pentagon budget request will be finished up in a few weeks, and it’s likely that major programs will, as usual, bear the brunt of cuts, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said Tuesday. Speaking at an Atlantic Council event in Washington, D.C., Welsh acknowledged “we don’t have enough money to do everything that was in” the President’s Budget for fiscal year ’16, and “there’s a lot of debate right now inside the Air Force and the Department … about what we should do to offset that shortfall.” Ultimately, the bill payers will have to be major programs, because “you’ve got to go where the money is,” he said. “As much as we don’t want them to be,” he said, major programs “have to be” a prime source of funds. Nevertheless, USAF will keep to its “major themes” in budgeting, and the top one is modernization. “We can’t stop modernizing,” he said, and “even if we have to slip something, we’ve got to keep the hook in” to do it later, or “make a clear decision not to modernize and move on to something else.” He also pitched that USAF must “divest things” like infrastructure and old hardware, in order to maintain the service’s technology edge. The Air Force has to invest in things that will ensure victory “10 [to] … 25 years from now” and “not worry about the last 50 years,” he added. (Listen to the Atlantic Council event.)