Air Force Secretary Michael Donley just made and interesting speech at the Air Force Association’s annual conference just outside DC that, in a time of tight budgets where every line item must be looked at for a cut, he’ll work hard to protect almost everything the service does.
Here’s a quick rundown of the tech-related elements of his speech:
- First, he’s committed to maintaining an “overseas presences which ensure regional stability, enables sustained engagement with key security partners, and supports the rapid response, global mobility and communications on which our joint force depends.”
- Next up, is protecting the advances in ISR and UAVs that have been borne out of the last decade of war including the development of “sensors, operating concepts, infrastructure and force development.”
- Here’s the biggie, a while back we wrote a post about what alternatives the Air Force has if the F-35 program suffers further delays. Donley’s answer, nothing. “simply put, there is no alternative to the F-35 program. It must succeed.” He went on to say that the service must be allowed to fight hard to develop a new long range bomber and it’s associated family of systems.
- He then mentioned the KC-46 tanker…he’s gotta be allowed to buy it. As we all know, a contract went out for it last year ’nuff said.
- Space. The Air Force must buy new satellites an upgrade its space situational awareness capabilities as well as its resilience in the face of an increasing number of threats in space.
- Maintaining the Air Force’s ICBMs and long range nuclear bombers. “As the U.S. nuclear arsenal gets smaller and the number and diversity of nuclear-armed powers increases, the flexibility inherent in our nuclear triad becomes even more important. We must maintain the nuclear triad.”
- Air Force special operations forces must be maintained.
- Increasing the service’s cyber fighting ability. “To protect America in the 21st Century we must further develop and sustain freedom of action in the cyber domain.”
So, the secretary said he was going to keep the Air Force’s missions intact and that any cuts must be done with “a balanced force” in mind (he said balance about a dozen times). Make of this what you will. The list may give an indicator of what’s being eyed for cuts by Pentagon officials and lawmakers. I’ve got another briefing to run to.