Top Pentagon leaders are preparing to unveil a new and “balanced” U.S. military strategy on Thursday, with reverberations expected to hit every military service.
The news conference by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Martin Dempsey will “be parsed by allies and adversaries to assess where the U.S. may be pulling back, by military personnel wary of benefit cuts and by defense investors attempting to predict which contractors may benefit or lose out from the new priorities,” according to Bloomberg. But what exactly will it mean for the Air Force – and the military as a whole?
It’s unknown what exactly the two leaders will say, but several key themes have been found in advanced reporting on the strategy.
Bloomberg reports that the new strategy will put “more emphasis on Asia even as defense budgets are cut” – which meshes with a November announcement by President Obama that the U.S. will increase its troop presence in Australia and the widely accepted knowledge that the Defense Department will need to cut $450 billion over the next decade. (Military leaders have denounced plans for a proposed additional $500 to $600 billion in cuts .)
According to Danger Room, “if Asia and the Western Pacific are the new U.S. defense hotspots, then the U.S. will lean heavily on the Air Force (and, of course, the Navy) — while reducing its air fleet.” The blog cites military and Capitol Hill sources as saying that about 200 aircraft – 5 percent of the service’s fleet – will be retired without replacement under a budget plan slated to be released later this month.
“Exactly which planes will go is unclear,” according to Danger Room. “But underr any scenaio, the positions of thousands of airmen who fly and maintain those planes will be phased out. The majority of those airmen will be reservists and Air National Guardsmen.”
Keep reading Air Force Times for updates on the Defense Department budget Thursday.