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From the Mouth of an “Unpaid Air Force Shill”: Air Force modernization is “grossly underfunded” at a time when airpower is more important than ever for deterring and dissuading aggression in places like the Pacific, retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, told a Capitol Hill audience March 12. “The tool of choice to maintain the peace 20 years from now is the United States Air Force,” McCaffrey said during a USAF-sponsored speech that reinforced comments that he made late last year. But fielding a modern Air Force that remains technologically “at least two generations or more” ahead of any potential adversary “costs a lot of money” just for the equipment, he said. Paying for the maintenance and training to support the force is “even more frightfully expensive,” he said. “What I have argued is that the money just isn’t there. It is not even close to being there.” Yet it needs to be, he asserted, to fund “credible airpower” and “credible airlift,” citing capabilities like the F-22, C-17, and a new bomber (see below). The F-22, of which he champions 350, is “a prerequisite” to the US military being able to act in places like the Taiwan Straits and Persian Gulf, he said. “You can’t do that if you have 90 or 100 F-22s,” he said. McCaffrey called for 600 C-17s, which he argues should be regarded as a “national transportation capability” as opposed to just a military asset because of their ability to haul massive loads in humanitarian crises. Further, he said, “if you believe in peace” then you will support having a new long-range bomber “in the hands of your diplomats.” McCaffrey is a former Gulf War division commander and ex national drug czar who now runs his own consulting firm and is a recognized pundit on national security issues. He called himself an unpaid shill for the Air Force.