Baseline Budget Totals $166 Billion
Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of
Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz discussed the Air Force fiscal-2012
budget request and recent developments in Japan and Libya during a
Senate Armed Services Committee hearing March 17. The Air Force's
baseline budget request of $150 billion and $16 billion in overseas
contingency operations supplemental appropriations represents a
careful balance of resources among Air Force core functions
necessary to implement the president's national security strategy,
Secretary Donley said.
(L-R) Michael Donley, Norton Schwartz
"This budget request, fully appreciating the nation's
extraordinary fiscal condition, supports our Airmen in their
continuing efforts to structure the force for maximum versatility
across the spectrum of operations for today's requirements and for
future challenges," General Schwartz added. It was presented before
the launch of Operation Odyssey Dawn" in Libya.
During the session, the Air Force's top leaders said investment
priorities will continue to minimize risk and maximize efficiency
across the full spectrum of potential conflict. "Proceeding with
development and production of the KC-46 tanker aircraft;
implementing the joint strike fighter restructuring; meeting the
combatant commanders' need for more intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance; investing in the long-range strike family of
systems, including a new penetrating bomber; and enhancing space
control and situational awareness all remain critical capabilities
for both today's and tomorrow's Air Force," Secretary Donley
In addition to these investments, Air Force officials will
continue to address challenges in readiness -- in particular, the
slow but persistent decline in materiel readiness most notable in
the service's non-deployed forces and the personnel challenges
across 28 stressed officer and enlisted career fields, both of
which are the result of today's high operational tempo, he added.
"And of course, we'll continue to support our active, Guard,
Reserve and civilian Airmen, and their families, with quality
housing, health care, schools and community support," Secretary
The secretary and general also noted the effect of the
continuing resolution on the Air Force and its mission, as the
operations tempo around the globe continues to intensify. "Without
a 2011 appropriations bill, we will have to further reduce flying
hours, cancel training and exercise opportunities, delay or cancel
weapon system sustainment and depot maintenance activities, and
disrupt a multitude of other day-to-day operations," General
In the wake of Japan's earthquake and its effect on that
country's nuclear reactors, Secretary Donley and General Schwartz
said the service is bringing to bear all possible capabilities to
support ongoing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief there.
"We are using C-17 (Globemaster IIIs) and other assets to help move
search-and-rescue capabilities from the United States to Japan,"
the secretary said. "We've used our helicopter and fixed-wing
airlift capabilities to move food and water, equipment and key
personnel around the main island in support of the local
requirements, as defined by Japanese officials."
Secretary Donley also stated that the Air Force will continue to
work closely with U.S. Pacific Command to support the Department of
State-authorized voluntary departure of family members and
dependents of U.S. officials who wish to leave northeast Japan. "To
date, Airmen and their families are not at risk on our bases,"
Secretary Donley said, adding that the service will continue to
monitor potential health hazards to the 30,000 Air Force members
and dependents in Japan.
The Senate panel also asked the service leaders about the
current situation in Libya and the U.S. military's ability to
establish a no-fly zone over the country. "It is clear that we
could establish a no-fly zone if that was the mission that was
assigned," General Schwartz said, adding that the mission would
undoubtedly require both United States- and Europe-based
Prudent planning by the U.S. military is ongoing, Secretary
Donley said. "We are working to provide the civilian leadership
with options, and ultimately, the president will decide what he
wants us to do," the secretary said.