In his latest message, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III discusses the impact sequestration has on the Air Force and why certain choices are being made to achieve the required savings.
Sequestration requires the Air Force to cut approximately $12.5 billion dollars each year by law, creating a bill the Air Force must pay by reducing planned spending to achieve the savings. The problem is that the services are limited in where they can find the savings from, Welsh says.
“Out of the Air Force budget, 55 percent of it includes money that goes to pay people … 5 percent of that 55 percent is installations and facilities. The rest of our Air Force budget … is all readiness, force structure and modernization,” he says. “Right now, we have not been able to get at that first 55 percent at all to pay any of the sequestration bill. It takes the approval of the White House, and of Congress and of others here in the department.”
So the entire bill will be paid out of force structure, readiness and modernization.
“As I visit you, I get lots of suggestions on other ways we can pay this sequestration bill,” Welsh says. “That’s going to get us at millions of dollars a year, not billions a year of savings. That’s why you see all the examples that we’re talking about now for fleet divestitures and cutting people and force management actions, all those things, that’s the reason.”
Welsh provides an example of the enormity of what $12 billion means to the budget.
“If we stop flying for the next two years … completely, no flying hours at all in our AF for two years, we can pay one year of the sequestration bill,” he says. “It’s a big problem gang, we’re working hard to fix it, but there’s going to be tough choices that have to be made.”