The January 2012 Strategic Air Force Guidance was launched in an effort to cut the United States Air Force budget in over $480 billion over the next decade. Options to reduce the budget and yet protect the USA citizens are continuously being exploited. This paper will identify and discuss three capabilities that could be used to maintain spending in the USAF at a minimum and yet advance its functionality. This would be a challenging tall order but it is possible. The new strategies discussed in this paper are embarking on new technology, deterring aggression in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East region, and finally supporting homeland defense. The USAF would have to restructure, and increase vigilance since opposing enemies would translate the budget cuts into weaknesses. For the success of this mission strategy, the vital strategies would be modernization and discipline in the use of the defense funds. It is however important for the management team not to compromise the safety of the people and sovereignty of the nation.
The American military particularly the United States Air Force was faced with critical adjustments to be made after the January 2012 Strategic Guidance. Air Force top officials confirmed the initiative to cut their budget in line with the new recommendations. The adjustments however were not to affect the dominance of the United States Military nor the alliances made with the country’s allies. Their goal was to reconstruct the force structure and align their machinery and expenditure according to the strategic objectives. These constraints were recommended for the Air Force to meet its share in the defense budget cuts and deficit reduction.
This study attempts to demonstrate how the Air Force can manage budget cuts and yet meet the current and future American security threats with superiority and power. For such changes to be made, the department would have to engage in prioritizing the functions of different sections in the department and minimizing their expenditure in the less critical areas. Maintaining this budget cuts would need prowess and better executed efforts to keep the budget in the required maximum. However, the most reliable capabilities for maximization may consist of exploiting technology, deterring aggression in Asia-Pacific and Middle East, and conducting homeland defense.
During the Operation Iraqi Freedom, the military heavily relied on the USAF for intelligent gathering, precision weapons, and air space machinery to achieve success. They also did a very good job in comparison to the superiority in numbers of the Jihadi insurgents. This showcases how important air power is to the security of a nation. Despite these findings, the United States spent most of the funds in Air Force to service old machinery and the last time the USAF bought new fleet was in World War 2. It is therefore absolutely necessary that the department focuses on buying new fleet with the latest technology and spend less on servicing old ones.
The man power in the USAF has continuously decreased over the years and is now at its lowest since its inception. Despite the challenge of the reduced man power, the department should invest in professionals of the highest caliber and education. This would enable them run a highly effective yet minimal operation with the least supervision and high output. Investing in such personnel would ensure that the department has the ability to invent new technology and therefore quickly grow in capabilities.
Finally, the USAF has very old long range bombers. Some are as old as twenty years. It is a priority for the department to upgrade this technology since they require less man power as well as very low casualties.
The Middle East and Asia-Pacific are the biggest motivators of the USAF. For a decade now, United States has been at war with the jihadist from Iraq and Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks. Majority of resources spent by the USAF are disposed in the Middle East. Air power was able to paralyze their activity on numerous occasions and give advantage to incoming ground forces in Desert Storm Operation. The harsh desert condition in the area was unable to deter the effectiveness of the drones including the sand storms.
North Korea and China are the biggest contenders of the United States regarding nuclear power. This has led to nuclear competition among these nations making the United States invest heavily on nuclear power to retaliate in the event of an attack. This has contributed to the crippling budget in the USAF. The most reliable and cost effective method to curb these insecurities is deterring aggression in both regions.
In the Middle East, the United States has withdrawn large numbers of soldiers although there exists the fear of impending attacks. The department is advised to increase the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) of counter terrorism operations. They could also increase target capacity for irregular warfare in the region and also facilitate airborne capacity to enable counterterrorism. Finally, it could recommit to Total Force.
In the Asia-Pacific region, they are recommended to first build a modern long-range bomber. They could also revive the F-22 line and reinforce space and cyber space. Finally, they could invest in a Navy Combat Air Vehicle (NCAV) or a new Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).
After the 9/11, home based attacks have become very common in the United States. Numerous cases of suicide bombers and other forms of attacks paint the newspapers ever so often. The USAF has been on a mission to gather intelligence using their jets and sometimes follow the insurgents with their aircraft. This has contributed to a portion of the USAF budget that could be redirected in a more deserving expenditure. In addition, there has been the insecurity based on the nuclear warfare on superiority that has been ongoing. Studies show that the most effective method of budget cuts is to prevent aggression and reduce risk in the country.
It is recommended that reinstating the F-35 program would decrease chances of an attack. The Air Force in this department could also strengthen ISR and the decision management system. A new airborne tanker could also deter contending nations from attacking the nation. Another unexploited measure is to install missile defenses for regional air bases and developing field hypersonic munitions. The final and most economical recommendation would be to support civil regional authorities for more effective homeland defense.
Budget cuts of over $480 billion will require a disciplined management body and very effective personnel in the department. These budgets cuts do not mean that the risk of attack in the country and its areas of interest are reduced but that the necessary personnel will have to be more vigilant and hardworking. Transition would be strenuous but the goal is that the cut resources would be redirected to much more pressing issues in the society. This would improve numerous lives. It is however essential for the management committee to understand that over the next decade, more dire decisions will need to be made. This therefore calls for the preparation of unprecedented decision making ability. Budget cuts of the USAF should act as pet project for other departments that could contribute in similar initiatives. Technology, better use of cyber space and air space are to be the threshold of the United States Air Force. The USAF is the best defense system in the world and these cuts should not be an excuse to lag behind. Rather, the USAF should embrace this challenge and improve its operations as well as protect the citizens of the United States of America.
Airpower studies lesson 4. Airpower from Post-Desert Storm through Operation Iraqi Freedom. February 19, 2013.
Airpower studies lesson 7. Airpower Strategy. February 19, 2013.
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