Air Force Leaders Call for End to ‘Budget Gymnastics’
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2013 The government’s “ongoing budget gymnastics” are having an effect on service members, Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley said here today.
Donley and Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, the Air Force chief of staff, said the looming “fiscal cliff” as well as conducting government business under repeated continuing budget resolutions create an atmosphere of unease among Air Force military and civilian personnel.
“Failure to enact a settled budget leads to repeated budget iterations, which, along with the overhanging threat of large and largely arbitrary cuts, creates wasteful churn,” Donley said during a Pentagon news conference.
This churn could lead to many airmen voting with their feet and leaving the service, he said. “They see and understand what’s going on in Washington,” he added. “They’re very well-connected. They’re the most educated force we have ever had. And they stay connected to what’s going on in our Air Force and what’s going on in our military [and] what’s happening in Washington. … They are watching this and … making their own judgments about the process.”
The secretary said it is extremely inefficient and disruptive to operate a “$100-plus billion enterprise, which is the United States Air Force, on a budget a month or two at a time.”
Welsh said that although re-enlistment remains solid for the service, the burden of deploying time and again since 1990 and working to keep “antique” aircraft such as the B-52 flying is wearing on airmen.
“They're not begging to get out the door,” the general said. “Our retention rates are great. They’re still proud of who they are and what they do. They express it every single day. But they want to know what’s coming.”
He said he has been working to keep airmen informed. “They're phenomenally engaged, and so we're trying very hard to keep them informed and improve the communication with them.”
“Communication for us right now is absolutely essential internally if we're going to be successful down the road’” the general added. “And so we're working this pretty hard.”