Wednesday, April 23, 2014

McChord Included in C-17 Reduction Plans

The president's budget proposal announced earlier this month outlines a future rapid global mobility force structure that includes the retirement of the C-38 fleet and reduction of the C-130H, KC-135 and C-20 programs reports Capt. Kathleen Ferrero, Air Mobility Command Public Affairs and Claudette Ruolo, American Forces Press Service, who contributed to the article.

In addition, officials note the planned movement of 16 aircraft into backup inventory during fiscal year 2015 (see map for state-by-state data).  (Click on Image for a Larger and Complete View)

Over the next five years, the Air Force plans to remove almost 500 aircraft from its entire inventory to transition to a leaner force as it faces about $12.5 billion in budget cuts, according to officials.

Col. Todd Cargle, Air Mobility Command Programs Division chief, said the budget cuts are forcing the Air Force to make hard choices to meet rapid global mobility mission requirements within budget constraints.

"We needed to make sure we were putting forward the best possible recommendation to support the warfighter," Cargle said. "Every stakeholder -- four other major commands, the Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve -- at every level was at the table to shape this recommendation."

The budget calls for the closure of four active associate units (three existing units and one that was in the planning phases). Active associate units combine active duty with Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve resources.

Maj. Gen. Maryanne Miller, deputy to the chief of the Air Force Reserve, told Congress this month that the fiscal year 2015 proposed budget was "a transparent, collaborative Total Force planning effort maximizing the contributions of all three components."

It was also a collaborative decision to retire the C-38 fleet.

The Air Force argues that retiring entire fleets can save billions of dollars, because it saves the costs associated with infrastructure, logistics, personnel and base operating support. For example, the future retirement of the KC-10 fleet could save the DoD more than $2 billion across the Future Years Defense Plan, Cargle said.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh described the enormity of what $12 billion means to the budget in his latest "Airman to Airman" message.

"If we stop flying for the next two years ... completely, no flying hours at all in our AF for two years, we can pay [only] one year of the sequestration bill," said Welsh. "It's a big problem. ... we're working hard to fix it, but there's going to be tough choices that have to be made."

To face the challenge of the future security environment and dwindling budgets, Air Force senior leaders plan to shrink "capacity"-- or how much it can do at any one time, in order to maintain "capability"-- what the Air Force can do at any time.

For example, if the Congress agrees to the changes when they pass next fiscal year's National Defense Authorization Act, C-17A capacity will be reduced by placing some C-17s into backup inventory to not fly daily, but to still preserve strategic airlift capability if needed, Cargle said.

The fact that sequestration budget limits are scheduled to return in fiscal year 2016 cannot be ignored, Gen. Welsh told the House Armed Services Committee March 14.

"Every major decision reflected in our (fiscal 2015) budget proposal hurts," Welsh said. "Each of them reduces capability that our combatant commanders would love to have and believe they need. There are no more easy cuts."

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