WASHINGTON — A long-term continuing resolution would cost the U.S. Department of the Air Force billions of dollars, delay the launch of 61 programs and threaten the service’s readiness, Secretary Frank Kendall said in a letter to lawmakers.
In his Dec. 3 letter, obtained by Defense News, Kendall said that a continuing resolution to fund the Air Force and Space Force throughout fiscal 2023 would leave the department with as much as $12 billion less than it would have to spend if the 2023 budget is passed. A CR would leave funding essentially at fiscal 2022 levels in lieu of an actual budget for 2023, either for a short period or the rest of the year.
He urged lawmakers to pass a 2023 budget quickly, without any further continuing resolutions, even for a short period. A short-term CR would still threaten the department’s readiness, he said.
“The longer the [Department of the Air Force] operates under a CR, the greater the impact is on our people and programs,” Kendall said. “I appeal to you and your colleagues to advance full-year FY23 appropriations legislation as soon as possible.”
Aircraft readiness and aircrew currency rates would suffer without enough money to fund critical maintenance and flying hours, he said.
Modernization efforts would take a $5.1 billion hit, which would halt the start of 61 new projects, Kendall said.
A CR would also compromise 28 military construction projects across 13 states, with a total of $1.3 billion. Some of these construction projects are intended to support the next-generation nuclear missile known as Sentinel, the KC-46A Pegasus, the B-21 Raider bomber, and the European Deterrence Initiative.
Kendall also said that Air Force’s planned combat range improvements would be delayed, funding for the service’s Indo-Pacific presence would be reduced, and energy resilience initiatives would be canceled.
Inter-service transfers to the Space Force would be hindered, Kendall said, as would the launch of eight “deltas,” or wings, for the Space Force, and development of guardians’ training programs.
It would limit the production of the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared, or Next-Gen OPIR, which would delay its initial launch and drive up costs, he said.
Pay raises for the services, including basic pay, housing and subsistence pay, and recruiting and retention bonuses, would be affected, he said. And the department’s efforts to put into place recommended changes on how to handle and prevent sexual assaults would be interrupted, he said.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.