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Efficiencies, balance main focuses of FY12 budget

2/14/2011 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force officials said despite a reduction in the top line request, combat capabilities and balance will remain focal points in the Air Force's portion of the president's fiscal 2012 budget presented here Feb 14.

The total Air Force budget request for FY12 is $166.3 billion, down from $170.8 billion in FY11. The largest portion of the $4.5 billion decrease from FY11 to FY12 is a $4.4 billion reduction in Air Force overseas contingency operations.

Maj. Gen. Al Flowers, the Air Force budget director, said the budget request is structured through a deliberate process that interweaves the national military strategy, the quadrennial defense review, combatant command requirements and the service's priorities and core functions.

As military forces poise to leave Iraq by Dec. 31, Air Force officials subsequently have sought funding consistent with one-quarter of FY11 operating levels for overseas contingency operations in Iraq. Although the largest budget request reduction relates to the drawdown in Iraq, Air Force officials still will request full-year support for operations in Afghanistan consistent with the FY11 operating levels.

The "blue," or operational, baseline has remained relatively flat, transitioning from $119.6 billion last fiscal year to $119 billion this fiscal year. The FY12 budget request reflects multiple factors, including a Department of Defense mandate to identify efficiencies and cost savings.

"There's a lot of movement in the blue Air Force total obligation authority," General Flowers said. "There are programmatic increases, decreases and inflation adjustments, all offset by efficiencies of about $1.9 billion in (operation and maintenance) and $3.4 billion across the budget."

The general said that the efficiency initiative objective was to identify resources in support and overhead that could be moved to warfighter and readiness enhancements.

"Our efficiencies include plans to consolidate four air operations centers, streamline three numbered air forces and introduce cost reduction efforts in the information technology area," General Flowers said, adding that the Air Force exceeded its efficiency target by $5 billion and moved $33 billion to enhancement areas.

"With this budget, the Air Force demonstrates its steadfast commitment to Secretary Gates' efficiency agenda by achieving $3.4 billion in cost savings and balancing measures," said David Tillotson III, the Air Force deputy chief management officer and office of business transformation director.

Care for Airmen, families

Within the $30.2 billion request for pay and allowances, General Flowers said Airmen can expect a pay raise of 1.6 percent, including a 4.2 percent housing allowance increase and a 3.4 percent subsistence allowance increase.

"There is a significant amount of money in this budget for Airmen and families, with $813 million alone allotted for family and support programs," General Flowers continued. "This breaks down to about $189 million for family readiness centers and warfighter support to include $8 million to fund Air Force resiliency programs."

Also included is $224 million for childcare and youth programs, with another $400 million for community support and education assistance programs. The general also noted $2.8 million allotted for additional case workers and program managers to meet the growing demands of the Air Force's wounded warrior populations.

"This total force budget provides our Airmen and civilians the necessary funding to protect readiness, reduce overhead costs and apply the savings from efficiencies to force structure and modernization," the general said.

Force structure, modernization

General Flowers explained there is considerable movement within the military personnel account in order to maintain end strength numbers while keeping critical career fields afloat.

"We have realigned 2,100 military manpower billets to support (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) in order to meet our goal of 65 combat air patrols by the end of 2013," the general said. "Even with the improved retention, we still have some career fields in which we have critical shortages."

To address these shortages, the budget includes $626 million dollars for career fields such as intelligence language specialists, contractors, security forces, nurses, psychologists, civil engineers, special operations forces and explosive ordnance disposal personnel.

"We'll continue to identify enabling capabilities that support the combatant commanders and meet the needs of the warfighter," General Flowers said. "It's all about taking care of Airmen and meeting the mission of our United States Air Force."

In order to provide critical support to the joint and coalition team to win today's fight, General Flowers said, Air Force officials will use innovative acquisition strategies that enable investment in critical mission areas.

Procurement and research, development, test and evaluation accounts include changes based on the Air Force's plan to modernize the force, increase readiness and maintain acquisition excellence, he said.

"The procurement portion of the FY12 budget includes funding for 48 MQ-9 Reapers, the maximum number that can be produced for the Air Force within a given year," General Flowers said.

The Reaper fleet plus-up will help ensure the Air Force meets its goal of 65 combat air patrols by the end of 2013, he added.

"We're asking for support in buying multiple advanced extremely-high-frequency satellites and space-based infrared system satellites using innovative acquisition strategies in order to procure satellites more efficiently and stabilize work for our industrial base," General Flowers said.

"Many programs will benefit from these efficiencies through reduced costs to procure satellites," he continued. "We'll need special Congressional language that will allow us to use procurement, advanced procurement and advanced appropriated funds to do so."

The Air Force's FY12 budget request includes $553 million for AEHF satellites, and $244 million toward advanced procurement for SBIRS.

General Flowers presented another example of acquisition improvement with a reference to "block buying," specifically in the Air Force's evolved expendable launch vehicle program.

"Through these more efficient purchases of launch vehicles, we'll start to see some of our acquisition improvements come to fruition," General Flowers said. "We've already implemented approximately 75 efficiency initiatives that range in scope and impact throughout the acquisition enterprise."

Additional modernization efforts include F-15 Eagle radar upgrades, C-5A Galaxy engine and reliability upgrades and C-130 Hercules avionics modernization and improvements, General Flowers said, adding Air Force officials also are requesting $5.2 billion to strengthen the nuclear enterprise.

General Flowers said the overall budget reflects the Air Force secretary and chief of staff's priorities: strengthen the nuclear enterprise; partner with the joint and coalition team to win today's fight; develop and care for Airmen and their families; modernize the air, space and cyberspace inventories; and recapture acquisition excellence.

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