Air Force Fights With Congress About Troop and Aircraft Reductions
If the Air Force gets its way in the 2013 budget that was submitted to Congress as part of the Administrationâ€™s 2013 Defense Department budget proposal, 200 aircraft and 5,100 airmen will be cut from the Air National Guard. In addition, the Air Force wants to cut 2,900 active duty airmen and 900 reservists from its ranks.
However, as the Senate was working on the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) during the waning days of 2012 it instructed the Air Force to stop moving forward with the plan. The House of Representatives passed similar language last summer.
Because of that, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a statement on behalf of the Administration during Senate consideration of the NDAA and threatened a veto of the bill. According to a statement issued by OMB,
â€śThese provisions would force DOD to operate, sustain, and maintain aircraft that are in excess to national security requirements, as defined by the new defense strategy, and are not affordable in an austere budget environment.â€ť
The Administrationâ€™s objection was one of a number in the OMB statement which included its objection to the Senateâ€™s removal of the TRICARE fee increases that DoD had asked for. Observers noted that the veto threat was not as strong as others that had been issued in the past. In fact, the Administration issued a veto threat last May when the bill was being considered on the floor of the House. Assuming the House and Senate send a final 2013 NDAA to the President for his signature, most people believe he will sign it in spite of the veto threat.