Keith’s Congressional Corner

Meet the 24th Secretary of the Air Force: Dr. Heather Wilson graduated from the US Air Force Academy's Class of 1982 (“Best in Blue”) and earned her master’s and doctorate degrees as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in England. She was an Air Force officer from 1982 to 1989 and from 1998 to 2009, Dr. Wilson was a member of the US House of Representatives, where she served on the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Read Full Bio.

Note: The secretary will be speaking at our first AFA Breakfast Capitol Hill Edition on 5 June.
 
 
President Trump released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 President’s Budget (PB) on Tuesday. The 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) set a discretionary spending limit at $1.065 trillion, $5 billion less than FY 2017.
 
The president’s defense topline will be difficult to achieve as his defense spending level, of $603 billion is $54 billion above the BCA spending caps through FY 2021.
 
At this time last year, five of the House’s 12 spending bills had been voted out of committee. Since there are only ten legislative weeks remaining before the FY 2018 bill goes into effect, there is relatively little time to debate the defense budget and programs and other issues. In the meantime, the Legislative and Executive Branches will be debating healthcare, tax reform, infrastructure spending, and raising the debt limit.

On a positive note, during our meetings on Capitol Hill, we are experiencing a bipartisan recognition that the US military has readiness and recapitalization needs.
 
AFA continues to advocate for stable and predictable (Regular Order) spending bills, at sufficient levels, necessary for the Total Force to grow their force, modernize their bases, and recapitalize aging weapon systems.
 
Congressional Budget Posture hearings start in earnest this week.


Happy Memorial Day. Please take a moment to remember all those that paid the ultimate sacrifice. 
Read more. 


AIR FORCE HIGHLIGHTS

Air Force Readiness
Earlier this spring, Chief of Staff Gen David Goldfein stated that the Air Force can sustain the current fight but may not be ready to fight simultaneous wars. He warned that for the Air Force, “tiered readiness is not possible.”

Military Personnel Posture: FY 2018
On May 17th, Lt Gen Gina Grosso, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services (AF/A1) testified before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Personnel. Select passages from her written statement:
 
- "Despite minor active component growth in Fiscal Year 2016, the Air Force has made steep cuts in overall end-strength over the last 10 years.”
 
- “Congress’ steadfast support in Air Force manpower growth will continue to help improve and maintain readiness, increase training capacity and maintenance accessions, and provide the manpower needed to sustain legacy airframes (A-10, EC-130, U-2, and RQ-4 Block 40) and onboard new weapon systems (F-35, KC-46, and B-21). Additionally, growth provides more capability within our remotely piloted aircraft enterprise; nuclear command, control and communications; intelligence and cyber missions.”
 
- "Our Air Force pilot shortage is part of a larger nation-wide shortage. Demand for pilots across the commercial, military, and cargo sectors is outpacing the nation’s ability to produce qualified pilots.”
 
- “Our greatest concern is the active fighter pilot shortage that is projected to exceed 1,000 by the end of FY 2017.”
 
- "Though our end-strength decreased 40K since 2006, we experienced significant growth across several mission areas. Additionally, a quarter-century at war has strained the force through reduced sortie rates and training availability. At current force structure levels, the operational tempo and deployments the Air Force maintains to support the joint force severely limits the time available for Airmen to adequately train for future conflicts.”
 
“Air Force asks Airmen to help revitalize squadrons”
By Scott Maucione, May 15, 2017
The Air Force is calling on its Airmen to help revitalize the fundamental structure and makeup of its squadrons. The crowdsourcing initiative is part of a larger push started by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein to fundamentally change the service.
Read more.
 
AF Must Grow to Perform All Their Missions
The Air Force’s Active Duty end-strength must reach 350,000 in personnel to perform all their missions. The Air National Guard needs to grow its end-strength to 120,000 to complement the Active Duty force level. In March, Lt Gen Maryanne Miller, chief of Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command, testified before Congress on the importance of the total force and the benefit of partnerships with the active duty, Reserve and Air National Guard. The General said the Air Force Reserve needs end-strength growth to incorporate cyber, intelligence, space and remotely piloted aircraft operators.
 
UH-1N Helicopter Replacement “Unacceptable”
Last Friday, the Air Force Association toured Joint Base Andrews and the 1st Helicopter Squadron. The 1st Helo Squadron’s helicopters are decades old and are in desperate need of modernization. Despite flying some of the nation’s most urgent missions, the squadron is relying on aircraft manufactured in the late 1960s and 1970s and were hand-me-downs from the Marine Corps. In April, the head of US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) Gen John Hyten, testified about this and other issues. He highlighted the Air Force’s acquisition process and their repeated delays for replacing the aging UH-1Ns that defend the nation’s nuclear missile fields. He called the process “unacceptable.” He added, “it’s a helicopter for gosh sakes. We’ve been building combat helicopters for decades...I don’t understand why the heck it is so difficult.” In 2007 the general issued the requirements for the Huey replacement, and the Air Force still awaits the replacement until 2021. Hyten angrily testified, “I want all hands on deck to get a new helicopter into the force.” The Air Force needs approximately 120 of the multi-mission helicopters.

QUOTES TO NOTE

“Flying is a national treasure and national investment.  A challenge I have as the chief of staff of the Air Force is to ensure we can continue the long term: protect this nation and protect our critical infrastructure.”
- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen David Goldfein

“Today’s aviation enterprise doesn’t adequately meet the needs for national defense and national commerce.”
- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen David Goldfein
 
“We have got a lot of work to do under the guidance of Secretary Defense Mattis and with the support of the United States Congress we will restore the readiness of the force so that we can win any fight, anytime, anywhere. We’re going to cost effectively modernize the force and drive innovation to bring new capabilities to the service of liberty, and underpinning it all will be a commitment to people. Thank you to the Airmen who protect the freedom we enjoy. You and your families represent the best of what it means to be an American”
- Dr. Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force
 
"After years of budget cuts amid growing threats around the world, this [FY 2018] budget request fails to provide the necessary resources to restore military readiness, rebuild military capacity and renew our military advantage with investments in modern capabilities."
- Sen John McCain, Chairman, Senate Armed Services Committee

"Ultimately, any military buildup is impossible as long as the Budget Control Act remains the law of the land...Congress must act not only to ensure adequate short-term funding for our nation's armed forces, but also to provide a long-term solution to sequestration. Our military deserves nothing less."
- Sen John McCain, Chairman, Senate Armed Services Committee
 
“History is not predetermined or static. History hangs on a hinge. Air supremacy is not America’s ordained right and there are other hands pushing on history’s door…By Secretary Wilson’s leadership, by the superior service of America’s Airmen…they push in vain…the U.S. Air Force must be better than anyone else.”
- Gen (Ret.) James Mattis, Secretary of Defense
 
“Sir, I would say what you can do to help us most is provide stable funding over an extended period of time, because the ups and downs, especially from a military manpower perspective are impossible.”
- Lt Gen Gina Grosso, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services (AF/A1)
 
“The demand for air, space and cyber capabilities will only grow in the future.”
- Lt Gen Gina Grosso, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services (AF/A1)
 
“Sequestration has required us to do fictional budgeting.”
- Representative Mike Turner (R-OH), House Armed Services Committee
 
“The Air Force Reserve leverages NGREA (National Guard and Reserve Equipment Appropriation) to increase capability and ensure interoperability in the joint fight.” “Congress’ efforts to assist with our budget shortfalls have helped, but permanent relief from the Budget Control Act caps is crucial to a steady and enduring full readiness recovery.”
- Lt Gen Maryanne Miller, chief of Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command
 
“Anything that separates space and makes it unique and different, relative to all of the war-fighting missions that we perform that are reliant on space, I don't think believe that will move us in the right direction at this time.”
- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen David Goldfein 


FISCAL YEAR 2018 PRESIDENT’S BUDGET (PB)

On Tuesday, May 23rd, President Trump released his Fiscal Year 2018 President’s Budget (PB) to Congress.
 
Touted to “fully reverse" the sequester's cuts to defense spending and to facilitate a 1) ready  2) balanced and  3) more lethal joint force, the $603 billion national defense budget dedicated $574 billion to base Pentagon programs. The $54 billion increased investment in national security ($52 in defense) is paid for by slashing discretionary spending and is a three percent increase—about $19 billon—over President Obama’s last projected budget. Approximately half of that increase would be necessary to fund higher personnel levels and a military pay raise approved in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act, so less money is actually available for weapon systems procurement.
 
Defense Hawks, led by Sen John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Rep Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee had been calling for a minimum of $640 billion in the defense section to arrest the readiness declines and to purchase needed weapons systems. The topline suggested by the Chairs of the Senate and Armed Services Committee would be $91 billion above the caps.


- The administration proposes $6.7 trillion in spending on national defense over the next decade. They also want to wind down the Pentagon's war account.

- Many analysts believe the US Army fared the best in this budget, and the US Navy will be able to pursue its goal of a 355-ship Navy.
 
- Sen John McCain called this budget “Dead on Arrival.” It is important to remember, however, that the President’s Budget Request is simply a request and a starting point for budget debate.
 
- In this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), we have been told not to expect anything deemed controversial.
 
- There are still some ongoing reviews that could affect this and future budgets: National Security Strategy Review, Nuclear Force Posture Review, and the Ballistic Missile Defense Review,
 

 FY 2018 DEFENSE BUDGET REQUEST

 
$639 billion [+6% (+$37B) above ~$602B final 2017 DoD funding]
    - $574 billion DoD Base: (+$50B above $524B 2017 Base)
    - $65 billion OCO (Overseas Contingency Operations): [-17% (-$13B) smaller than $78B 2017 OCO]

 

FY 2018 AIR FORCE BUDGET REQUEST

     - $183.0 billion (increased $12B from 2017); includes $36.7B 'non-blue' funding and $13.9B Air Force OCO
 
 
PERSONNEL (MILPERS) $30.7 billion (FY17: $29.3B)
    - Air Force’s top priority is increasing Total Force end-strength (+4,000) to address pilot-shortage, maintainer-shortage, Cyber/Space/Nuclear Enterprises
    - Requests 675,000 Total Force Airmen— 325.1K active duty, 106.6K Guard; 69.8K Reserve; and 173.8K civilians; Guard/Reserve plus up is 1.7K)
    - 2.1% military pay raise (below ECI rate of 2.4%)
    - 1.9% civilian pay raise
    - 3.2% increase in BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing); increases out-of-pocket expenses by 1%)
    - 3.4% increase in BAS (Basic Allowance for Subsistence)
    - Implements new Blended Retirement System (beginning 1 January 2018)
    - TRICARE Fees increase from $563 to $700 (family of 3 is $400)
    - Increases pharmacy co-pays over 10-years; promotes mail order pharmacies
    - No change in Commissary budget
 
OPERATIONS & MAINTENANCE (O&M) $49.2 billion (FY17: $47.9B)
    - Sustains 60 RPA (Remote Piloted Aircraft) combat Lines; Continues RPA get-well plan
 
PROCUREMENT / MODERNIZATION (PROC) $24.7 billion (FY17: $23.9B)
    - F-35: Adds 46 USAF F-35A CTOL aircraft (less than number purchased in FY 2017)
    - Increases munitions purchases
    - Upgrades Training/Ranges
    - Funds 3 Delta IV Heavy Launch Services
 
MILITARY CONSTRUCTION (MILCON) $2.4 billion (FY17: $2.5B)
    - Military Family Housing (MFH) account holds steady at $1.4 billion
     - Requests BRAC (Base Realignment & Closure) in 2021; AF has 25% excess infrastructure
 
RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, TESTING & EVALUATION (RDT&E) $25.4 billion (FY17: $20.2B)
    - Air Force One: $434 million (-$200M cut from plan)
    - B-21 bomber: $2 billion
    - F-22: $610 million (+$187M)
     - GBSD (Ground Based Strategic Deterrent): $215 million (-$79M)
    - JSTARS Recapitalization
    - LRSO (Long Range Standoff Weapon): $451 million (+$31M)
    - T-X Trainer funding
    - Combat Rescue Helicopter development continues
 
S&T (Science & Technology)
    - $2.58 billion (FY17: $2.678B)


F-35 JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER PROGRESS
 
As Lt Gen Chris Bogdan, Program Executive Officer for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office, retires July 1st, he leaves the program much stronger than the one he inherited. His final F-35 progress report stated that full F-35 ‘3F’ combat capabilities will be delivered in USAF F-35 CTOL by 2019, at the latest. F-35 production is ramping up from 60 aircraft per year to approximately 90 aircraft. It will then increase to approximately 120 aircraft per year and drive down the price per unit to $79 million by 2020.
 


AF MEETS WITH AIRLINE EXECUTIVES ABOUT PILOT SHORTAGE
 
On May 18th, the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen David Goldfein met with dozens of representatives from the airlines, associations, education, Civil Air Patrol (CAP), and senior Air Force leaders to discuss the national pilot shortage and how to improve collaboration. Rand, the National Air Carrier Association, University of North Dakota, Airlines for America, CAP, Regional Airline Association (RAA) and Air Force directorates briefed on requirements, challenges, and potential opportunities for both the military and the airlines.
 
The Air Force is currently 1,555 pilots short of their requirements, including 955 fighter pilots. In addition, the Air Force is also short 3,400 maintainers.

“This meeting was valuable to bring us all together to discuss the challenges we’re each facing,” said Faye Malarkey Black, the Regional Airline Association president. “Just starting the dialogue between all of the participants in the room was an important step forward.”

The participants looked at several different avenues for improvement including recruiting a more diverse workforce, inspiring younger students into aviation, improving educational and student loan options, and exploring the efficacy of a “shared resource” of pilots who fly for both the military and commercial airlines.
 
"We're not going to fix the numbers anytime soon, so we have to get after how we use those pilots in both uniforms," said Lt Gen Maryanne Miller, the Air Force Reserve Command commander. 80 percent of Reserve pilots are part-time reservists and 96 percent of those also fly for commercial airlines.
 
“This is the beginning of something I think will have big payoffs if we’re disciplined in the way we approach it,” said General Goldfein.


SEPARATING SPACE FROM USAF IS MOVE IN WRONG DIRECTION

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen Goldfein testified on May 17th that the possibility of separating space operations from the Air Force would cause confusion and thwart the service’s efforts to address threats in orbit.
 
Gen Goldfein testified before the senate stating, “I don’t support it at this time…Right now, as we make this transition from a benign to a warfighting environment…any move that actually ends up separating space as opposed to integrating space, I would argue is a move in the wrong direction.”
 
The Air Force routinely faces conjecture and attacks from outside regarding their control of space. The May Senate hearing resulted from a report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in which they cited concerns with the Defense Department’s management and acquisition of military space systems such as satellites. The report claimed, “GAO has reported over the years that DoD’s culture has generally been resistant to changes in space acquisition approaches and that fragmented responsibilities have made it difficult to coordinate and deliver interdependent systems.”

Highlighting their concern for Space, the Air Force created a new three-star led directorate, AF/A11 on the Air Staff that will oversee military space matters.

General Goldfein agreed with the need for streamlined acquisition.


KEY DATES TO WATCH
 
Jun 5:             AFA Capitol Hill Breakfast with SECAF Heather Wilson
Jun 26:           House Armed Services Committee Mark-Up of FY 2018 NDAA
Jul 26:            AFA Capitol Hill Breakfast with CSAF General Goldfein
Sep 18-20:     AFA’s Air, Space, & Cyber Conference, Washington, DC
Sep 30:          Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) Ends
Oct 1:             Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) Begins


If you have questions, please contact:


Keith Zuegel, Col (Ret), USAF
Senior Director, Government Relations
Air Force Association
KZuegel@afa.org 

 

 
 

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