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​Today’s Air Force is “too small, too old, less ready, and out of balance for the challenges that we as a nation are going to face” for the next two decades, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said Thursday. Still, Goldfein said he “could not be more optimistic about our future.” Most of America remembers the Air Force of Desert Storm, but that Air Force had 134 fighter squadrons, of which it deployed 33. Today’s Air Force has just 55 fighter squadrons total, including an F-15 unit in Europe funded through the European Reassurance Initiative, he said. “We’ve gotten smaller over time, as the demands for what we bring to the joint fight and the team have gone up,” Goldfein said at the McAleese FY17 Defense Programs Conference in Washington, D.C. As such, Goldfein said the most important item on the service’s $7.2 billion unfunded priority list is funding to grow the force. “People, not procurement,” he said. “We have gotten too small.” The service’s unfunded priority list includes $145 million to grow the Active Duty force to 321,000.