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Force Structure Changes

US Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson called 18 September 2018 for a 24% growth in the number of squadrons by 2030, claiming that the additional aircraft would be necessary to prepare for a possible conflict against major nations and extremist groups. The proposal came as a part of the service's "Air Force We Need" proposal, which had been in the works for six months. The proposal was prepared after the Pentagon released its National Defense Strategy, which outlined the need of the US military to shift away from the extremist fight towards a deterrent strategy aimed at opposing nations with significant military resources.

Wilson noted that the current Air Force service isn't big enough to carry out all the missions currently assigned to it. The addition of 74 squadrons would raise the number of operational squadrons from 312 to 386 and necessitate significantly more total force manpower. Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said that the Air Force now had about 670,000 active duty personnel and 74 new squadrons would require this figure to grow to 725,000 Guard and Reserve airmen and civilians by 2030, that is, about 740 personnel per squadron.

  • 22 squadrons to be added to C2ISR forces
  • 14 more tanker squadrons, the biggest shortfall
  • 9 more combat search and rescue squadrons
  • 7 additional space squadrons
  • 7 more special operations squadrons
  • 7 more fighter squadrons
  • 5 more bomber squadrons the largest percentage increase
  • 2 Remotely Piloted Aircraft squadrons
  • 1 more airlift squadron

However, such increase would require a massive boost of the Air Force's budget, which is almost $50 billion in FY 2019, according to Todd Harrison, a defense budget analyst for the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "The cost of pay and benefits for 40,000 airmen is about $5.2B per year (give or take)," he wrote. "Right now the Air Force spends about $53B per year on aircraft operations, training, and recruiting. Increasing the number of squadrons by ~24% would probably add another $13B per year in these operating costs."

Air Force General David Goldfein in an interview with Air Force Times on 17 September 2018 said that such enormous financial support would allow the Air Force to change the way the squadrons are deployed. He outlined that currently, airman are deployed in groups in three or more to quickly arrive at the established bases and fight violent extremist groups, yet this positioning would be impossible to maintain while fighting a "peer". Goldfein also claimed that the current Air Force lacks experience and practice it had 17 years ago while fighting Saddam Hussein with unit-wide deployment, calling it "a kind of muscle memory" that needs to be regained.

Each year Air Force officials provide a force structure announcement to Congress outlining the service's intent to realign, consolidate and enhance unit operations. This announcement addresses the president's budgeted force structure, realignment and management actions required to achieve efficiencies, modernize or make organizational changes.

It specifies the force structure changes the total force experienced - active duty, Guard and Reserve. Before making any decisions concerning major force movements, Air Force officials said they'd fully comply with the spirit and requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.

The FY04 force structure realignment results in a total decrease of 5099 authorizations (2260 military authorizations and 2839 civilian authorizations), and 1055 drill authorizations. This realignment of active-duty and civilian manpower authorizations will better support the service's highest-priority mission requirements.

The Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) imposes a "new steady state" of accelerated operations and personnel tempo, as well as a demand for unprecedented speed, agility, and innovation in adapting to unconventional and unexpected threats. To address this need for force shaping, the Air Force is taking a two-prong approach to rebaselining its manpower books.

First, the service will eliminate unfunded and unfilled manpower authorizations that should have been reduced as a result of long past budget decisions. Second, as new capabilities are added, the Air Force will shape the force by realigning resources from lower priority areas to satisfy the requirement for these higher operational priorities. In certain cases, current employees will be affected by this "balancing the books" exercise, but every precaution is being taken to minimize impact on personnel.

To implement these reductions, commands will decide within their command which processes can be eliminated or reengineered. It is important that the Air Force's manpower authorizations accurately reflect the military and civilian workforce as everything from deployment taskings to accession programs are based on manpower authorizations.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 28-09-2018 11:40:32 ZULU