Hurlburt Field, FL (SSG Erica Horner) – Air Force and Department of Defense leadership provided insight into the Fiscal Year 2015 proposed budget, including growth in special operations, during a briefing to the press March 4.
The FY 15 budget proposal focused on balancing capability, capacity and readiness for future challenges and opportunities.
“As you can see this is no easy task, and we were forced to make very difficult choices in this budget,” said Maj. Gen. Jim Martin, the Air Force director of budget, who presented the service’s budget request. “Throughout every step of the process we worked very hard to make every dollar count, so that we can protect the minimum capabilities for today’s war fighting efforts while also investing capabilities needed to defeat potential high end threats in the future.”
While many items were on the chopping block to include personnel, aircraft and special programs, special operations may see an increase in manning and funding.
“They’re going from about 60,000 troops today to 69,700, so they’re definitely growing over the next few years,” said Robert Hale, Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller). “And between ’14 and ’15, the budget goes from $6.6 billion to $7.7 billion so there’s considerable growth in (special operations forces).”
Air Force Special Operations Command receives funding from both the Air Force and United States Special Operations Command. In general terms, base operating support and service common equipment are funded by the Air Force, while SOF dedicated operations, including flying hours, SOF unique equipment, modifications to service common equipment and new SOF mission military construction are funded through USSOCOM.
“In a dynamic environment where minutes matter, a growing force will enable timely response to combatant commanders,” said Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, AFSOC commander. “We will continue to preserve our core capabilities while seeking innovative solutions to balance and modernize our force.”
The Air Force’s FY 15 budget request also details recapitalization efforts to seek additional funding for F-35s, MC-130Js, HC-130Js and MQ-9s.
“As part of the C-130 multi-year procurement program, we buy 13 C-130 variants,” said Martin. “Seven C-130Js in support of global mobility, four HC-130s in support of personnel recovery and two MC-130s in support of special operations.”
Additionally, the proposal realigns and reprioritizes capability and capacity across the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance portfolio. In accordance with the FY 14 National Defense Authorization Act, the Air Force will transfer the MC-12W manned medium-altitude ISR capability to the U.S. Army and Air Force Special Operations Command.
The proposed budget calls for an Air Force budget $34 billion above sequestration levels.
“Under sequestration, we would again have to take drastic actions resulting in an Air Force that is less ready, less capable, less viable and unable to fully execute defense strategy,” Martin said. “That’s why we are seeking this additional funding above the sequestration level.”
If Congress does not change the discretionary caps and rejects the FY 15 proposed budget, the service will go to pre-sequestration level budgets and would see reduced capabilities in a variety of ways.
“We believe strongly that sequestration-level spending will compromise our security,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “By making these tough choices today we will set ourselves on a path that we will be the most ready and modernized Air Force in the world, albeit a smaller one. But we need to remain very lethal against any of the potential adversaries that we might face.”
For more information on the FY 15 proposed budget, visit the Air Force Financial Management and Comptroller site at http://www.saffm.hq.af.mil/budget/.