The U.S. Air Force might not be able to meet wartime surge demands if Congress blocks proposed cuts to the National Guard beginning in 2013, the service’s top general said.
The Senate Armed Services Committee has recommended freezing most cuts to the Air National Guard in 2013 and has called for creation of a national commission to make recommendations regarding Air Force structure.
House lawmakers have also rejected many Air Force-proposed budget cuts in the Pentagon’s 2013 budget request.
The Air Force has proposed cutting 5,100 Guard, 900 Reserve and 3,900 active-duty personnel to meet billions of dollars in spending reductions directed by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff, said balancing the cuts was the “most difficult task” during the budget process.
Since the release of the Pentagon budget proposal in February, lawmakers have criticized the Air Force’s plan. At the same time, top DoD officials have said that approving the budget, as proposed, is critical to meeting a new military strategy announced in January.
Speaking at an Air Force Association-sponsored breakfast on June 11, Schwartz said the cuts to the reserve component save the Air Force money in the long run.
“Our reserve component affords us the oft-referenced cost savings when Guard and Reserve airmen are deployed at lower rates than their active-duty counterparts,” he said. “Therefore, the failure to decelerate the pace of cuts to the active component put at risk our collective ability to conduct future surges, to operate through the surge successfully and then to fulfill post-surge, steady-state rotational requirements, all of which the nation will continue to demand of its Air Force.”