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The Air Force is finding it “increasingly difficult to maintain” its advantage in contested environments, following more than a decade of fighting simultaneous wars in virtually uncontested air space, said USAF Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Spencer. “The cornerstone of our success depends on airmen who are exploiting and mastering emerging technologies, not only in warfare, but also in space and cyberspace,” Spencer told members of the House Armed Services Committee’s readiness panel last week. Spencer said airmen must be fully equipped to handle anything the country needs of them: from having the right equipment, technology, and training to ensuring an adequate number of crew members and support people to complete any mission. “A good readiness plan depends on an optimum level of health in all of these areas,” he said. However, he noted that “sequestration has slashed our budget by billions of dollars, forcing us to make the difficult decision to cut force structure in order to help preserve our near-term readiness.” Spencer argued that the demand for Air Force services has not decreased with the drawdown of combat operations in Afghanistan, and he advocated for increased appropriations to ensure the force is able to maintain and increase its readiness levels, states an April 10 Air Force release. (See also The Readiness Question from the January edition of Air Force Magazine.)