Toward Full-Spectrum Readiness

The Pentagon’s Fiscal 2016 budget request to Congress puts the US military back on a path, albeit measured, to rebuilding its “full-spectrum readiness,” said Lt. Gen. Mark Ramsay, the Joint Staff’s director of force structure, resources, and assessment, on Monday. This comes after the Defense Department in recent years accepted some near-term risk to readiness to preserve investments and modernization, he told reporters during a briefing in the Pentagon on the proposed budget. At the proposed Fiscal 2016 spending levels, the Pentagon has put “as much as we can” to try and get back to full readiness, but the recovery would vary across the services, he said. The Air Force’s Fiscal 2016 budget plan, for example, fully funds “executable” flying hours and weapon system sustainment activities to support achieving full-spectrum readiness by Fiscal 2023, said Ramsay. The reason this date is so far out is because the Air Force, much like the Army, has largely not returned home to its garrisons to reset from Afghanistan, he noted. Demands in areas like intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in the US-led air campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria have eaten up operations and maintenance dollars that otherwise would have gone into reset and readiness activities. At the same briefing, Pentagon Comptroller Mike McChord said operational demands in Iraq and Syria were one reason why the Defense Department adjusted its proposed U-2 phaseout plan from Fiscal 2016 to Fiscal 2019.