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Combating Cost Growth: The Air Force would have to cut 47,000 airmen out of its total force just to hold personnel spending at a constant rate between Fiscal 2011 and Fiscal 2017, said Undersecretary Erin Conaton during an AFA-sponsored presentation Wednesday in Arlington, Va. She assured the attendees that she was not advocating for such drastic cuts, but she said the analogy highlights the dire financial situation as the service attempts to combat cost growth in areas like personnel. Although USAF's end strength is 7 percent smaller than it was seven years ago, the personnel account has risen 16 percent, she noted. And while the service has successfully reduced its energy usage by 16 percent over the last several years, energy spending has still tripled over the same time period, said Conaton. "If we don't get a handle on the costs, not only will we not be successful today, but we will be setting up a problem for our [successors] to tackle down the road," she said, adding that the Air Force remains committed to utilizing alternative and renewable sources of energy.