FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md., December 16, 2014 —
The modern Air Force is “feeling some strain” recently, due to its shrinking size and high operations tempo, but there won’t be any more involuntary force-shaping in 2015, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said today.
James said she and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III have decided not to go forward with previous plans to continue the involuntary elements of fiscal year 2015 force reduction.
‘Enough is Enough’
“We are in agreement that enough is enough,” James said. “We have reduced far enough. We will not go lower, and we will fight to hold on to the numbers now that we have.”
James shared her perspective during an “Open Door” meeting at the Defense Media Activity headquarters building here, answering questions from airmen in the audience and around the world, via social media platforms and video-conferencing technology. Budget challenges were a central topic during the town hall-style event.
Pay and Allowances
The secretary also was asked about service members’ pay and allowances, and she clarified that military compensation is still scheduled to increase, although not at the same rate as in recent years.
“Specifically, rather than a 1.8 percent pay raise next year, the proposal [to Congress] was to do a 1 percent pay raise,” James explained. “This, of course, was one of those very tough decisions from this very, very tough budget environment.”
Despite having served 10 years as a professional staff member on Capitol Hill, James said she was still surprised by the degree of recent divisiveness in Congress. She said it has been one of the key challenges of her tenure as service secretary.
“It’s a challenge that we’ve got to figure out how to solve, between all of the interested parties,” James said. “Because, of course, at stake is the proper functioning of our government.”
In her view, a lack of compromise is at the root of the problem.
“I think we have to get back to the idea that compromise is a good word. It’s the way we get things done,” James said. “And ultimately, that’s what we all have to do as leaders in government. We have to get things done.”
(Follow Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jake Richmond on Twitter: @RichmondDoDNews)