Thursday, November 17, 2011
U.S. Senate Approves Reed-Ayotte Initiative to Combat Wasteful Defense Spending
Strategic Airlift Force Structure Reform amendment will allow Air Force to reduce its unneeded inventory
WASHINGTON, DC – The full U.S. Senate today unanimously approved legislation from U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) to save taxpayers an estimated $1 billion and appropriately reduce the Air Force's strategic airlift aircraft inventory minimum.
Although current law sets the Air Force's minimum number of strategic airlift aircraft at 316, Pentagon officials have indicated that only approximately 300 aircraft are needed to meet strategic airlift capacity requirements. The Defense Department and the Air Force support the reduction in the minimum strategic airlift aircraft inventory, consistent with the President's FY 2012 budget request. These planes are used to carry supplies, equipment and military personnel around the globe.
The Ayotte-Reed provision, which was successfully added to the 2012 Defense Authorization bill, will reduce the strategic airlift aircraft floor from 316 to 301 aircraft.
"I am pleased the Senate unanimously accepted this important measure and the House should approve it too. Congress has a responsibility to ensure the Air Force has the tools it needs, but we should also pay close attention when they tell us they don't need certain equipment. The Pentagon, the Air Force, and Transportation Command support this common-sense fleet reduction, which will enable the military to better allocate their resources," said Senator Reed.
During a July 13, 2011 Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower hearing, chaired by Senator Reed, General Raymond Johns, Commander of U.S. Air Mobility Command, testified: "...we completely support the President's authorization request...eliminating the 316 strategic airlift aircraft restriction...the 316 strategic airlift floor requires us to keep unneeded, less capable C-5As in the inventory. Over the FYDP [Future Years Defense Plan] the un-programmed cost to the Air Force to maintain these aircraft could be as much as $1.23 billion."
General Johns testified that strategic airlift aircraft in excess of 301 were "over capacity" that forces "extra workload on our airmen to keep that capability when we don't need to utilize it."
A recent Center for New American Security (CNAS) report, entitled "Hard Choices: Responsible Defense in an Age of Austerity" endorsed this initiative to reduce the strategic airlift aircraft floor.
The Senate continues to debate the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 this week. Once the final bill is approved by the Senate, it must also be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.