USAF Pushes Allied Capabilities as Endstrength Shrinks

The Air Force wants allied countries to pick up the slack in specific areas to maintain coalition capabilities as it downsizes to its smallest size in its history, the service’s top international affairs official said Wednesday. Allied countries should increase capabilities in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; air mobility; and command and control, based on lessons learned in recent conflicts and humanitarian responses, said Heidi Grant, the deputy under?secretary of the Air Force for international affairs, during the ComDef conference in Washington, D.C. Although allies often are quick to show up to contingencies with equipment, many lack communication links and command and control capability to effectively operate with other countries, including USAF, Grant said. There’s a shortfall of air mobility, such as tanker refueling, if the US isn’t available, she said. As the US military shrinks, it’s working to get in front of dropping capabilities by working with allies to improve ability in air operations and increase the amount of US-made equipment other countries can operate. The Air Force also is increasing military-to-military exchanges and working on ways to streamline international procurement, said Grant.