USA — Donley Calls for Fiscally Improved Air Force

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2010 — The Air Force’s top civil­ian today urged the service’s lead­ers to make tough deci­sions now, as eco­nom­ic recov­ery con­tin­ues to put defense spend­ing under increas­ing pres­sure.

In his State of the Air Force address at the Air Force Asso­ci­a­tion Air and Space Con­fer­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Expo­si­tion in Nation­al Har­bor, Md., Air Force Sec­re­tary Michael B. Don­ley stressed good fis­cal stew­ard­ship despite new require­ments on the ser­vice.

“Last year, we not­ed that our Air Force has reached an inflec­tion point at which crit­i­cal changes in the strate­gic envi­ron­ment, resources and tech­nol­o­gy are com­bin­ing to re-shape our future,” Don­ley said in his pre­pared remarks at the con­ven­tion.

New require­ments for mis­sile defense, cyber and space defense and mod­ern­iz­ing the Air Force’s aging fleet are chal­leng­ing the bud­get, he said. Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates has charged Don­ley and all the ser­vices and agen­cies with­in the Defense Depart­ment to do more with less.

But fis­cal reform is noth­ing new to the Air Force, Don­ley added.

“For sev­er­al years, we have pushed our­selves to reduce and con­sol­i­date per­son­nel, finan­cial man­age­ment and oth­er func­tion­al com­mu­ni­ties to intro­duce new tech­nol­o­gy and ways of doing busi­ness,” he said, not­ing the growth in Air Force intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance, or ISR, capa­bil­i­ties.

“We all know these changes have some­times been painful,” he added. “But we all know that the intro­duc­tion of new tech­nol­o­gy to sub­sti­tute for man­pow­er will need to con­tin­ue.”

Don­ley also called on Air Force lead­ers to improve their acqui­si­tion prac­tices.

“As we con­tin­ue to strength­en our acqui­si­tion work force, our ongo­ing tasks are to be bet­ter nego­tia­tors, to know our inter­nal busi­ness imper­a­tives, to under­stand our con­tracts, to know our indus­tri­al base and to respect that every dol­lar is an Air Force dol­lar [and] every dol­lar is a tax­pay­er dol­lar,” the sec­re­tary said.

Oth­er changes are on the hori­zon. Don­ley not­ed that the Air Force is look­ing to stream­line its orga­ni­za­tion and com­mand struc­ture to be more effi­cient.

“The tech­nol­o­gy, resource and strate­gic dynam­ics in this envi­ron­ment make it imper­a­tive that we keep the pres­sure on our­selves, for we have yet more work to do in the imme­di­ate years ahead,” Don­ley said.

The years ahead include weapons and mate­r­i­al readi­ness, Don­ley said. A review, he not­ed, is under way to find trade space with­in the require­ments gen­er­a­tion, depot main­te­nance and sup­ply-chain process­es impact­ing avail­abil­i­ty and cost.

Don­ley also not­ed the need to advance long-range strike capa­bil­i­ties, call­ing ISR, elec­tron­ic war­fare, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and oth­er weapons a “crit­i­cal” nation­al capa­bil­i­ty.

Although the Air Force bomber pro­gram was designed as a nuclear deter­rent, lead­ers rec­og­nize the pro­gram is under way from a con­ven­tion­al war per­spec­tive, he said.

“We are con­fi­dent that a mod­ern long-range strike plat­form not only has been, but should remain, a crit­i­cal tool in the nation’s arse­nal,” he said, cit­ing the suc­cess of bomber jets in past con­ven­tion­al mis­sions. “Their abil­i­ty to range the plan­et with oper­a­tional flex­i­bil­i­ty have proven their val­ue time and again.”

How­ev­er, no suc­cess­es could be had with­out a com­pe­tent force, he said.

“Our under­ly­ing strength is in the integri­ty, excel­lence and self­less ser­vice that our air­men bring to the fight every day,” Don­ley said. “It’s our air­men who will trans­late their orga­ni­za­tions, doc­trine, train­ing and equip­ment into com­bat pow­er.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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