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thedrifter
09-26-07, 07:34 AM
Air Force may halt drawdown
Army, Marines growth will require more support
By Lisa Burgess, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Wednesday, September 26, 2007

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Air Force wants to stop its force reductions, foreseeing a greater need to support the growth of the Army and Marine Corps, senior officials said Monday.

“We cannot see our way clear to further reductions,” Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne said Monday at the 2007 Air & Space Conference in Washington.

In 2002, Air Force leaders announced a plan to cut 40,000 personnel and use the money they saved to modernize the service’s aging air fleet.

In a Sept. 19 speech at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, Wynne announced that the plan is not working.

Now officials are trying to decide whether to halt the reductions in 2008, leaving the Air Force with about 328,000 airmen, instead of going down to 316,000.

The key motivation to stop the drawdown is the growth of the Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 members over the next several years, according to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley.

The Air Force is going to have to add personnel to support those ground forces, such as airlift personnel, tactical air controllers, special operations forces and other airmen who work with ground forces or act as liaisons between services, Moseley said.

The Air Force doesn’t know how many airmen will be needed because neither the Army nor the Marine Corps has decided how many of their new forces will be combat forces and how many will be support troops, Moseley said.
Money woes

Even without additional airmen, the Air Force is facing a severe money crunch with no help in sight, Wynne said.

Starting with the upcoming 2009 budget, the Air Force will need at least $20 billion more every year to meet its modernization needs, he said.

“I think this is really a yellow-star cluster,” Wynne said, describing the military term for sending a personnel-in-distress signal. “We’ve done what we can do, and we need help.

“I am looking carefully at the supplemental [budget request], and upcoming budget, and we continue to be in a constrained environment,” Wynne said. “I don’t see the relief I am looking for.”

Ellie