By Brian Everstine-Staff Writer - Air Force Times
The Air Force is rejecting a proposed alternative to its budget cuts, saying a plan from a group of state leaders incorrectly states its savings and does not meet any of its required criteria.
The Council of Governors, a bipartisan group of 10 governors, last month proposed an alternative plan that cuts fewer guardsmen while increasingly targeting the active-duty force. The plan also undoes several aircraft moves that were proposed in the administration's fiscal 2013 budget.
Air Force leaders have said repeatedly in recent weeks that they were listening to the council's request, but an internal Air Force evaluation of the plan obtained by Air Force Times emphatically rejects the alternative proposals.
"The factual conclusion of the evaluation was that the CoG proposal would increase costs and produce adverse impacts to the AF's risk-balanced force structure and combat power," the evaluation states. "The CoG proposal did not meet any of the criteria using either sourcing option."
The council proposed cutting 6,400 active-duty airmen, as opposed to the Air Force proposal to cut 3,900 active-duty airmen, 5,100 guardsmen and 900 reservists. The council's alternative sought to cut 2,000 guardsmen.
The council's proposal stated that it would save an additional $700 million, but the Air Force said that number is wrong. Given a thorough analysis, the state plan's number is in error by $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion over the future defense program through fiscal 2017, the service said.
The Council of Governors approached Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about the plan in February, and the Air Force laid out five criteria for an alternative plan:
• Meets foundational and combatant commander requirements
• Meets force sustainment and readiness requirements
• Meets requirements for total force training, readiness and development
• Must be at least cost neutral
• Meets deploy-to-dwell and mobilization guidance.
The proposal fails to meet all five of the requirements, the analysis states. Among the specifics by the Air Force: That the proposed loss of U.S. Air Forces Europe C-130s would result in a failure to meet European Command and African Command airlift support; result in adverse readiness and training impacts due to increased temporary duty deployments; exceeded F-16 training capacity; and decrease overseas F-16 basing, which hurts the sustainability of the force.
Congresswoman Kathy Hochul and other members of New York's Congressional delegation had supported the Council of Governors' plan in a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley. That plan included the idea that a mission using a specialized intelligence gathering plane called the MC-12 might be assigned to the 107th Air National Guard Airlift Wing at the Niagara Falls Air Reseerve Station. That unit learned in February that its mission flying C-130 cargo planes might be cut. That could leave more than 800 jobs in that unit in limbo.
Hochul said she had no indication that negotiations over the Council plan had broken off. But she does say that local members of Congress are pursuing their own plan to bring a new mission to the Niagara Falls base. Hochul repeated that it includes a possible cybersecurity mission or something involving the so-called ISR program. That stands for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance.
Hochul also says she has regular contact with Pentagon officials as a member of the House Armed Services Committee. There is a standing invitation to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Air Force Secretary Donley to visit the Niagara Falls base. Hochul says they are still trying to work something out on their schedules.
Air Force Times, WGRZ