KEITH'S CONGRESSIONAL CORNER


“If you don't know where you are going,
you'll end up someplace else.” 
- Yogi Berra

 

It’s been a bit tumultuous here in Washington with five continuing resolutions (CRs) and two government shutdowns and more focus on memos than budgets…

 

As a result, the government was shut down for about 8½ hours on Friday, February 9. So, did you miss it?

 

Lurching from CR to CR keeps the government running for a short duration, but at a considerable cost and detriment to the military’s readiness levels. To avoid this impact, legislation must include exceptions called “anomalies.” In the previous four CRs, anomalies were almost as elusive as bipartisanship in DC.

 

Congress did, however, manage to pass a two-year budget package for Fiscal Years (FY) 2018 that started last October 1, 2017 and for FY 2019, which starts October 1, 2018. The agreement set new spending limit caps and will increase federal spending by about $300 billion—approximately $165 billion for the Pentagon and $131 billion in non-defense domestic spending over two years. The previous and artificially low budget caps disproportionally hampered defense and devastated readiness.

 

The budget with increased spending for defense is welcome news for the Air Force, which will no longer need to trade future recapitalization and modernization of its aging systems in order to maintain readiness.

 

With a two-year agreement, the defense department will finally have the stable and predictable funding for which AFA has been advocating.

 

In the meantime, next year's FY 2019 President’s Budget (PB) was released on February 12th, marking the start of budget appropriations for next year.

 

The FY 2019 Air Force budget increases the lethality of the force, while prioritizing increased readiness and modernization. The Air Force’s portion requests a 6.6 percent increase (almost $10B) over last year’s budget but still came in third behind the Army and Navy.

 

With agreed-to spending levels, Congress should have an easier time completing appropriations this year, and a higher level of predictable funding will ensure the warfighters have what they need at a better cost for the taxpayers.

 

Here’s why budgets matter: Aerospace superiority is not a birthright. It has to be fought for and won. Now, our work begins in the field and at the HQ in Washington. To assist with advocacy messaging, please see “AFA’s Legislative Issues – 2018” document. AFA's Legislative Issues - 2018.

 

On another note, we hope that you will join the thousands of attendees and exhibitors at the Air Force Association’s 34th Annual Air Warfare Symposium (AWS) next week. It is truly one of the nation's premier events for defense and aerospace professionals from across the United States and abroad. This year’s event will highlight innovation; investments in innovation are vitally important and provide a necessary asymmetric advantage to our nation. Learn more about the AFA Air Warfare Symposium.


AIR FORCE HIGHLIGHTS

FY 2019 PB Department of Defense Budget: FY19 PB: $686.1B (FY18 PB: $611.8B)

DOD Comptroller, Mr. David Norquist stated these are “big but needed numbers.” His budget roll-out briefing noted that “The President’s FY 2019 budget request is for $686.1 billion. This budget represents five percent real growth over the initial FY 2018 President’s Budget and ten percent real growth over the current Continuing Resolution (CR). While reversing a seven-year decline, defense spending remains near historical lows as a share of the U.S. economy...”

FY 2019 PB US Air Force Budget: FY19 PB: $156.3B (FY18 PB: $146.6B)

AFA's Breakdown on USAF Budget.

AF's President Budget FY19.

 
    - Air Superiority - Continues 4th/5th Generation Aircraft modifications. 

    - JSTARS - Transitions to Airfield Battle Management System (ABSMS) to better meet COCOM Commanders’ needs. Retains JSTARS aircraft through 2020s.

    - Light Attack - Continues Light Attack experiment.

    - MILCON/BRAC (Military Construction/Base Realignment & Closure) - Directs 50 percent of MILCON for new beddown locations for F-35As; KC-46As. Does not request another BRAC round.

    - MILPERS (Personnel) - Grows end strength to increase readiness with 4,700 new members (totaling 329,100 in FY 2019). Funds key programs to support Airmen and families; increases Housing and Subsistence programs; addresses the Pilot Shortage; and revitalizes squadron and increase Quality of Life. Also provides for a 2.6 percent military pay raise—the largest in nine years.

    - Modernization/Recapitalization - Procures 48 F-35 Joint Strike Aircraft; 15 KC-46 Tankers; and ten combat search and rescue helicopters. Invests in research for the B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber (LRSB) and T-X Trainer aircraft.

    - Replenishes Munitions

    - Nuclear Deterrence - Invests in the Long Range Strike Option (LRSO) and Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) follow-on to the Minute Man III.         

    - Readiness - Focuses on having enough trained people by addressing the gaps in Remotely Piloted Aircraft, Cyber, and Intelligence. Funds flying hours and maximizes industry capacity of preferred munitions. Also funds depot maintenance and family readiness.

     - Research, Development, Test & Evaluation (RDT&E) - Increases funding for the B-21 bomber program, the backbone of the future bomber force; begins GPS III follow-on development; and continues modernization of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program.

    - Space - Substantially increases space capability for DOD’s new construct in competition against Russia and China.
 
Nuclear Posture Review Calls for Changes to Nuclear Arsenal, Flexibility in Response to Attacks
AirForceMag.com | 2 Feb 2018 | by Brian Everstine, Air Force Magazine
 
“This NPR [Nuclear Policy Review] ensures we can deter any potential adversary, because they are not all alike,” Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in rolling out the review on Friday. “We must keep America’s deterrent credible by making it modern. The 2018 NPR calls for modernizing the nuclear triad and command and control system, which is necessary, affordable, and long overdue. Our nuclear triad has kept us safe for more than 70 years. We cannot afford to let it become obsolete.”
 
“Given the range of potential adversaries, their capabilities and strategic objectives, this review calls for a flexible, tailored nuclear deterrent strategy,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis writes in a preface to the review. “This review calls for the diverse set of nuclear capabilities that provides an American President flexibility to tailor the approach to deterring one or more potential adversaries in different circumstances.”
Read more.
 
2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS)
US Department of Defense
 
Today, we are emerging from a period of strategic atrophy, aware that our competitive military advantage has been eroding. We are facing increased global disorder, characterized by decline in the long-standing rules-based international order—creating a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory. Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security.
 
A more lethal, resilient, and rapidly innovating Joint Force, combined with a robust constellation of allies and partners, will sustain American influence and ensure favorable balances of power that safeguard the free and open international order.
Read more.
 
USAF Has Too Many Missions and Not Enough Airmen
AirForceMag.com | Feb 2018 | by Amy McCullough, Air Force Magazine
 
In congressional testimony and speeches over the last few years, senior Air Force leaders have gotten almost rote in their message: USAF is simply too small to do all the missions being asked of it.
 
Lately, though, the language has become more urgent. Last fall, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein began to compare the service to a rubber band that’s been stretched too far, implying that at some point—possibly quite soon—it’s going to break.
 
In 1991 the Air Force had 134 fighter squadrons; today, it has just 55. “Yet, we are much more active in combat than we were during the Cold War,” said Wilson during an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in October.  In order to “win any fight at any time … we have to restore the readiness of the force. That means, first and foremost, people. We are too small [to do what] the nation expects us to perform.”

In recent years, budget constraints have pushed the Air Force to make a priority of capability over capacity leading to a drastic reduction in the service’s personnel end strength.
Read more.

QUOTES TO NOTE


"To advance the security of our nation, these troops are putting themselves in harm’s way, in effect signing a blank check payable to the American people with their lives. They do so despite Congress’ abrogation of its Constitutional responsibility to provide stable funding. Our military has been operating under debilitating continuing resolutions for more than 1,000 days during the past decade. These men and women hold the line for America while lacking this most fundamental Congressional support, a predictable budget.”

- General (Ret.) James Mattis, Secretary of Defense

 

“Congress mandated this National Defense Strategy—the first one in a decade—then shut down the government the day of its release. …I regret that without sustained, predictable appropriations, my presence here today [at a House Armed Services Committee hearing] wastes your time, because no strategy can survive without the funding necessary to resource it. We all know America can afford survival.”

- General (Ret.) James Mattis, Secretary of Defense

 

“The [NMS] blueprint directs the military to re-focus its attention on great-power competition after nearly two decades of focusing primarily on Islamist militants and 'rogue' nations. 'What stands in the way is politics.”

- Senator John McCain, Chairman, SASC

 

"[In order to] win any fight at any time … we have to restore the readiness of the force. That means, first and foremost, people. We are too small [to do what] the nation expects us to perform.”

- The Honorable Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force

 

“I think it’s very important people know, it’s very important for our officers to let the people in America know, that we have a real serious [readiness] problem. Because without [public] awareness, we’re not going to get the attention of the House members and Senate members that will have to make the decision on ultimately a budget for the military or a fix of the dilemma we have right now.”

- Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Chairman, SASC Readiness Subcommittee

 

“Some of the folks in DoD are reluctant to talk too openly about our shortfalls because you’re broadcasting that to your potential adversaries. And I admit, it’s a fine balance. But if we’re going to convince my colleagues who are not on this committee, as well as the American people, to fix these things, I think we do have to at least talk somewhat openly about what our problems are.”

- Rep Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Chairman, House Armed Services Committee


KEY DATES TO WATCH

2017
   
Oct 1 Fiscal Year 2018 Began  
Dec 8 1st FY 2018 CR Expired  
Dec 22 2nd FY 2018 CR Expired  
     
2018    
Jan 18 3rd FY 2018 CR Expired  
Feb 8 4th FY 2018 CR Expired  
Feb 12 FY 2019 President's Budget Released  
Feb 21-23 Air Warfare Symposium, Orlando, FL  
Mar 23 5th FY 2019 CR Expires  
Mar 30 AFA Breakfast Series, Capitol Hill Edition, with Secretary Heather Wilson  
Sep 17-19 Air, Space & Cyber Conference, Gaylord National Hotel, National Harbor  
     

If you have questions, please contact:

Keith Zuegel
Senior Director, Government Relations
Air Force Association (AFA)


GRL@afa.org

 
 
 

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