U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has told the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel that the service faces challenges in its goals to meet global demand and combatant commander requirements, DoD News reported Friday.
Amaani Lyle writes that the Air Force has requested an additional $10 billion on top of the sequestration-level caps to address operational needs and sustain programs for personnel, modernization and stewardship.
“Your United States Air Force is still the best on the planet, but we mustn’t take that for granted because we are a force under strain,” James told the panel.
She said U.S. airmen support the maintenance of the nuclear arsenal, strike missions against the Islamic State group and various intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations amid concerns about downsizing and personnel gaps in the cyber and maintenance units.
With the proposed budget, the Air Force is planning programs to manage sexual assault prevention and response efforts, child care support, fitness, education and compensation, James noted.
She added that the funds will also cover the U-2, Airborne Warning and Control System, KC-46 Pegasus, F-35 Lightning II and the long-range strike bomber programs in order to balance modernization with readiness.
James also said in her testimony that the Air Force is planning other cost-saving initiatives for areas such as aircraft retirement and base realignment and closures.