02 February 2010

Air Force fiscal 2011 budget balances for today's fight, postures for future challenges

Air Force officials here reinforced their commitment to fund and support today's operations while posturing for future challenges through the service's portion of the president's fiscal year 2011 budget Feb. 1.

The $119.6 billion budget proposal supports the Air Force's unique capabilities and core functions and how the service supports its people at home and abroad as it continues to rebalance the force, senior leaders said.

Balancing today's operations

The FY11 Budget Request supports a balanced approach to prevail in today's operations while ensuring new capabilities, force structure, skills and technologies to meet tomorrow's challenges.

"The Operation and Maintenance budget is focused on new and emerging requirements as well as on-going operations," said Maj. Gen. Al Flowers, Air Force budget director. "We have balanced resources across the full spectrum of operations to meet the increasing demands of today's fight."

In FY11, the Air Force's baseline budget totals $119.6 billion which provides resources across several appropriations that provide pay and allowances for people, readiness, and infrastructure and modernization. An additional $20.8 billion was requested for overseas contingency operations to support ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In keeping with the Air Force's tradition of taking care of its Airmen and their families, General Flowers explained that the Air Force will invest about $1billion for quality of life programs such as child development centers; spouse counseling and employment programs; school liaison officers; and childcare programs.

The general also said the submission will support a basic pay increase of 1.4 percent for both Airmen and civilians. In addition, Airmen can receive increases of up to 4.2 percent for basic allowance for housing and 3.4 percent for rations.

Personnel funding continues to be a priority for the service, with $29.3 billion devoted to active duty, Guard, and Reserve end strength preservation. The budget also provides for increases in critical skills recruiting and retention bonuses, and personnel plus ups in stressed career fields.

"Airmen can expect to see increased emphasis on bonuses -- about $645 million -- for areas such as combat controllers, intelligence, pararescue, explosive ordnance disposal, tactical air control party, contracting, and survival, evasion, escape and resistance," General Flowers said.

In addition to recruiting and retention, the general asserted that education will remain a priority in the FY11 request.

"Tuition assistance is a mainstay in each budget and we will continue to provide Airmen off-duty education," General Flowers said.

In addition to education, the Air Force's budget request maintains investments in the organization, training and equipping of Airmen supporting OCOs.

To increase flexibility and lethality that meets the needs of combatant commanders in the AOR, the Air Force will continue to support efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the general said. The budget request includes a $6.1 billion FY10 supplemental request in addition to the $15.2 billion in OCO funding received in the FY10 appropriation.

Investing for future challenges

As the strategy facilitates funding increases for contingency operations, the Air Force will sustain its investment in new capabilities and a force structure to meet tomorrow's challenges.

"We are modernizing and recapitalizing within our means," Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz said. "In developing the budget request, we also carefully preserved our approach to taking care of Airmen and our Air Force families."

The Air Force's top priority continues the efforts to strengthen the nuclear enterprise with $5.2 billion earmarked for ongoing support and maintenance of the service's nuclear forces.

"In addition to the establishment of Global Strike Command, the Air Force has developed a more rigorous inspection and positive inventory control process while taking steps to correct nuclear force development," said General Flowers.

As ground forces draw down in Iraq and sustain in Afghanistan, the Air Force will see intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and irregular warfare operations increase, the general said.

The new budget provides for 36 baseline and 12 OCO MQ-9 Reapers, four additional RQ-4 Global Hawks and 662 active duty personnel associated with the increased ISR missions. General Flowers said service officials will also seek to develop a normalized training and basing posture for the MC-12 Project Liberty.

The budget proposal provides "enhancement to legacy fighters to ensure today's capability is compatible with future or fifth generation fighters as we develop and bed down the F-35," General Flowers said.

The enhancements include F-15 modernization and radar upgrades and EC-130H Compass Call modifications. Common configuration upgrades and software development for the F-22 will ensure compatibility with new models coming off the line. In addition, the Air Force will continue modernizing the C-5, C-130 and C-17 fleet through programs such as avionics modernization; reliability, enhancement, and re-engining; and large aircraft infrared countermeasures.

The service will also continue its efforts toward emerging missions, the general said.

"We're increasing our ISR combat air patrols to 50 by the end of FY11 and by the end of FY13 we'll be at 65," he said. "Each CAP will have a manpower tail attached and much of the end strength relates to increased demand of ISR support in the AOR."

"We're investing in maturing technologies as we work toward concept exploration for a long-range strike capability," General Flowers said of the $200 million endeavor.

The Air Force will continue building a robust space program while investing in both secure and non-secure satellite communications including a missile warning satellite.

Air Force officials said the FY11 budget helps the service achieve the right balance to meet today's commitments while posturing for future challenges, adding that there is now have a blueprint to improve existing capabilities and pursue new technology while ensuring stewardship of national resources.

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