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September 17, 2008—Top Air Force uniformed leaders provided uncommon insight into their main unfunded requirements Sept. 17 at AFA’s Air & Space Symposium in Washington. During a forum, they each responded to a question asking where they would spend “one more dollar” of budget. Their replies:

Lt. Gen. Charles Stenner, head of Air Force Reserve Command: “Manpower for new missions,” such as cyber and unmanned aerial systems.

Lt. Gen. Donald Wurster, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command: “Mobility platforms that will allow us to penetrate deep into enemy territory,” in the form of additional CV-22 tiltrotors and MC-130s. Wurster also wished for an AC-27 gunship variant of the C-27, and funds to fix major structural problems on older aircraft.

Lt. Gen. Craig McKinley, director of the Air National Guard: “Relevant missioning” of  Guard units” affected by the base realignment and closure process.

Gen. Stephen Lorenz, head of Air Education and Training Command: Accelerated replacement of the T-38 advanced trainer, which has far exceeded its planned life expectancy.

Gen. Roger Brady, commander of US Air Forces in Europe: “Like everybody else here … I need more and better aircraft.” Brady noted that in 1990, USAFE had 770 fighters and now has 177. Meanwhile, the number of NATO partners USAFE must help defend has increased from 16 to 28. The aircraft on hand require increasing amounts of maintenance.

Gen. Howie Chandler, head of Pacific Air Forces: “I would advocate for 800 to 1,000 flightline maintenance positions.” Chandler admitted having taken part in decisions that reduced maintenance manpower, and some of those desicions “have not worked out,” because aircraft expected to be retired are still in the inventory.

Gen. Robert Kehler, head of Air Force Space Command: ICBMs. “That force has not been on a starvation diet but … almost.” As the primary strategic deterrent, the ICBM force “does underpin every other activity” and is in a state that neither “we nor the country can stand.” He also said he needs funds for “protecting our space assets.”

Gen. Arthur Lichte, head of Air Mobility Command: Tankers. Given that a new tanker has just been postponed again, Lichte said he must now put attention on the KC-10, which is the only alternative if the aged KC-135 fleet is grounded. 

Gen. Gene Renuart, commander of US Northern Command: “I have no budget … but what you’re hearing here is that an aging fleet and infrastructure needs to be reconstituted.” Renuart also said funds could be found by reducing “overhead and … base infrastructure” where it is excess to need.

Gen. Duncan McNabb, head of US Transportation Command: The new tanker, because it will revolutionize “the way we do business.”

Gen. John Corley, head of Air Combat Command: “Airmen … the most valuable weapon we have. That’s where the money goes.”

Gen. Bruce Carlson, commander of Air Force Materiel Command: Rebuilding the acquisition and scientific work force, which has been “badly decimated” by budget cuts over 15 years, “and I think we’re seeing some of the ramifications of that today.”