United States Air Force is a branch in the US Military (United States Armed Forces). It is amongst the seven American uniformed services entitled to offer aerial warfare services to USA. Of all the US Armed Forces, it was the last to be formed but again the largest. It is the best Air Force technologically worldwide. Like any other institution, the US Air Force makes both short-term and long-term budgets to aid it in achieving its short-term and long-term goals respectively.
These budgets are meant to assist this military arm to fully attain its capabilities, which include surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence; rapid global mobility; space and air superiority; command and control; and lastly global strike. The above Air Force functionalities need resources hence the reason behind budgeting. It assists the Air Force in pre-determining its expenditure needs to get a reasonable resource appropriation (Gates 211). This essay seeks to analyze the budgeting system of the United States Air Force.
The United States Air Force has a significant impact in us security system since it provides the air power advantage relied upon by all joint forces in order to ensure successful mission completion. The Total Air Force refers to personnel composition of the Air Force. The components include the active, reserve and guard that support the domains of space, air and cyberspace. Active Air Force comprises of 64 % of the total force. Its missions include global mobility; global strike; homeland defense and civil support; nuclear response; global president attack; communications, command, control and computers, space superiority; and many other core functions. It is the most active component hence works on a full-time basis. As at 30 June 2014, the Air Force employee base was as follows: Snapshot of the Air Force: 324,820 Active Duty, 64,934 Officers and 259,886 Enlisted.
The US Air Force budgeting system.
- The Operation and Maintenance (O & M) budget: this type of budget supports weapon system sustainment, installation support, flying hours, benefits and pay for civilian personnel, simulators and ranges. It provides the Air Force enough resources to begin their readiness recovery actions. The budget also provides that the agency can sustain their nuclear enterprise operations for ICMB (intercontinental ballistic missiles)
- The procurement budget: enables the ability of the Air Force to support its key aircraft, space, ammunition and missile requirements (Barzelay, Michael and Colin 263). Procurement efforts provide enough current capacity and improve the Air Force’s next generation space and air capabilities. In addition to above, the appropriation also supports space superiority, funds the purchase of a GPS (global positioning system) III satellite, recapitalizing space capabilities and the EELV (evolved expendable launch vehicle).
- The FY MILPERS (military personnel) budget supports the Total Force (guard, reserve, active) end strength of about 483000. It offers a well-balanced Total Force mix that will be capable of performing the agency’s five core missions. It also ensures this organization has the right number of employees with the right set of required skills. The appropriation provides its flyers together with their families increased pay and allowances for the housing needs and subsistence needs. This budget is of great relevance since it provides a modern Air Force.
- The RDT&E (research, development, test and evaluation) budget: this budget funds both the basic and applied scientific research. It enables the development, test and evaluation of weapon systems. It allows investments in the Long Range Strike (LRS) Family of Systems hence provide the development needed in modern systems. It provides research options that enable E-8 replacement and improved capabilities characterized by more advanced sensors at reduced costs.
- The Military Family Housing (MFH), the Military Construction (MILCON), Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) budget: it allocates resources to the defense’s most critical requirements.
The Air Force short-term budgeting system is meant to meet the agency’s short-term goals within the next fiscal year. Such short-term goals include assisting United States in airline operations to ensure security for the nation in the current year.
Significant Air Force Budgeting Issues In The Next Five Years
- It plans to eliminate almost 500 aircraft in 25 states. This is in an attempt of president Barrack Obama’s administration to cut down operation costs. The move will affect a portion of active duty staff, reserve staff and guards.
- The Air Force plans to invest heavily in research and development in order to improve the agency’s efficiency. This means that within the next five coming years or so, the budget for research and development cost will rise.
- There is a plan underway to increase the number of tankers. The procurement budget is also expected to double since many efforts will be directed towards acquiring new technology-based assets and fighting weapons
Long-term goals include increasing the agency’s capacity in an attempt of improving the quality of its services. Increase in capacity includes fleet expansion, acquisition of new and modern equipment and acquisition of a skilled workforce capable of operating the Air Force equipment. The following are the specific long-term plans of the US Air Force.
- Determination of the crew size of the future tanker: there is an expectation that future tankers to be acquired by the Air Force will be relatively bigger compared to the current tankers. The question, therefore, is will the crew size be similar to the current one or what changes are expected. If an increase is expected, the Air Force should provide substantive strategic plans to ensure an increase in resource appropriation to meet such increase demands.
- The price tag of future items and equipment: technology is improving day in day out. New technology means improvement in the quality of items. What is expected when quality of things goes up? The answer is increased price. The US Air Force should ensure necessary steps are taken to avail more capital in 5 to ten years ahead. This will help the agency in the acquisition of more efficient equipment capable of offering improved services in terms of quality, reliability and efficiency (Air Force Financial Management and Controller 114).
- The organization structure of the US Air Force: the construction starts from the president and goes down until the lowest rank of Air Force guards. The issue here is whether such organization structure will maintain or not. The Air Force receives its commands from the US president. If the organization structure changes, the chain of command will be affected. It should be able to determine its future flow of communication if the chain of command changes. The importance of this projection is that nations are prone to attacks and other forms of emergencies. What course of action will be at their disposal to execute if the chain of command is affected? From whom is the agency supposed to receive its power if the organizational structure changes?
- Future leadership and total force development: complications emerge due to the aging process. Such complications require effective leadership capable of guiding the Air Force through them. Future leadership in 5 to ten years should be determined. For example, if operators are expected to be the future leaders, they should receive the necessary training capable of preparing skillful individuals. Leadership change is inevitable, and preparation of leadership replacement ensures continuous efficiency of the institution. It is something expected to take place in the long-term, hence advance preparations ensure continued efficiency.
- B-52 engine replacements: the Air Force expects to fit new engines into the Air Force within the next five years. Such a move will reduce sustainment and fuel consumption costs according to the Air Force commander. If improved engines are fitted to the bombers, the number of tankers will decrease due to efficient consumption. Such will reduce the down costs by a greater extent. Since it is an advantageous move expected to cut down operation costs, many efforts should be made towards engine replacements.
- Long-term UAV plans: it is planning to increase the fleet of its remotely piloted aircraft (RPA). This long-term plan includes insights on how future unmanned systems will execute some missions by unmanned aircraft. According to Col Sean Harrington, “There is so much more that can be done with RPAs. Their roles within the Air Force are evolving. We have been able to modify RPAs as a plug-and-play capability while looking to expand those opportunities” (Brian 1.6).The implication of above long-term plans is increased resource requirements. It should present these projections to the military defense of USA to get increased appropriations to aid in the acquisition of more fleet. The solution is presenting its increased capital requirements for future consideration.
Advantages of Budgeting to the US Air Force
- Planning orientation: budgeting takes the management of US Air Force away from short-term functions and forces it to think long-term. This is advantages since it ensures continuity in security provision
- Funding plan: without budgeting, Air Force resource requirements will not be known. Funding will be inefficient since there will be nothing to base it on. Therefore, it is essential to enable acquisition of enough funds.
- Cash allocation among departments of the security agency: budgeting enables determination of interdepartmental cash requirements hence eases the allocation process. Without budgeting, co-ordination within the US Air Force will be hampered. The implication is that budgeting is essential and inevitable for this agency.
- The other advantages enjoyed by the Air Force courtesy of budgeting include control of resources, gives a clear picture of the use of resources, enables cutting down of wasteful operations, and gives taxpayers an account of how tax money will be used and many others. Without budgeting, efficiency of this security agency will be affected.
According, to the aforementioned facts, Budgeting is essential for any institution. This is because it funds operations in institutions. As in the case above, it enables the United States of America Air Force to achieve of its both short-term and long-term goals and objectives. Short-term budgeting by Air Force defense department includes predetermining resource requirements within the next fiscal year to meet its security obligations. This is done by forecasting the following year expenditure using history on military spending. Long-term budgeting by the agency includes determining resource requirements in the long-term (for instance, the amount of resources required to buy more fleet for the agency). Despite the fact that the US Air Force was the last defense branch to be formed, it has grown at a fast rate during the past few years. This is attributed to the critical function it plays in the united defense force. Budgeting for both its short-term and long-term requirements is essentials.
Air Force Financial Management & Controller. Fiscal Year 2015 Air Force Budget Materials. (2014). Retrieved From: Http://Www.Saffm.Hq.Af.Mil/Budget/
Barzelay, Michael, and Colin Campbell. Preparing For the Future: Strategic Planning In the Us Air Force. Brookings Institution Press, 2003.
Brian, Everstine. “Air Force Reveals Long-Term Uav Plans.” Defense News (2014). Retrieved From: http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140408/c4isrnet08/304080018/air-force-reveals-long-term-uav-plans
Gates, Robert M. "Helping Others Defend Themselves: The Future Of Us Security Assistance." Foreign Affairs (2010): 2-6.