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All four service chiefs told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Nov. 7 that they gained some valuable lessons after last summer’s Strategic Choices Management Review. Sequestration has forced the Defense Department to plan for a range of budget scenarios—from continuing resolutions to the submitted President’s Budget for Fiscal 2014, and those lessons are now shaping budgetary guidelines. First, USAF has to maintain “full spectrum readiness” for a range of contingencies, and it can’t afford to be “late to the fight,” Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said. When the Air Force does cut capabilities, it has to cut associated structure and overhead as well, which is what is driving discussions behind so-called “vertical cuts” of entire fleets. Third, USAF has to maximize the contribution of the Total Force. Finally, it must focus on the unique capabilities the Air Force provides for the joint force to execute operations against a “high-end threat.” After SCMR, Welsh said, USAF decided the President’s Fiscal 2014 budget proposal is the “most prudent option” available today. While force reduction would still be necessary, if accompanied by efficiencies and compensation reforms, these cuts could be made in a way that minimizes additional risk to national defense.