US Air Force seeks sharp growth to stay ahead of…

Space: The Final Frontier for War?

Air Force Magazine

Adding 74 squadrons (each squadron typically has 12 to 24 aircraft) would require an additional 40,000 personnel, both military and civilian, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said, leaving the Air Force with a headcount of about 725,000 by 2030, compared to the current projection of roughly 685,000.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told reporters that the preliminary analysis drew partly from classified intelligence about possible threats in the 2025 to 2030 time frame, showing that the service, at its current size, would be unable to preserve America's edge. She also suggested locating the proposed Space Development Agency under the Air Force's Space Rapid Capabilities Office.

The Air Force provided this graphic with a summary of the proposed plan. The new squadrons would be formed to meet a variety of needs, including bomber, fighter, space, tanker, special operations, search-and-rescue, command and control, intelligence/surveillance/reconnaissance, remotely piloted, and airlift missions. Moving forward, the Air Force will be expected to satisfy a more robust set of requirements - including defending the homeland, defeating a peer adversary, providing a nuclear deterrent, dealing with rogue nations and fighting extremists all over the world - that will require a substantially larger force, Wilson said. Instead, it calls for renaming the Air Force as the Aerospace Force to highlight that air and space are "indivisible", as pointed out at the beginning of the Space Age by then Air Force Chief of Staff Thomas White.

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The Air Force is also working hard to recover from its maintainer shortage.

As the Air Force celebrates 71 years, its mission is at the front edge of new military technology and growth. The NRO is believed to have the largest budget of the 17 USA intelligence agencies. Although some lawmakers complain the Pentagon gets too big a share of US resources, defense spending enjoys broad support in Congress.

The AFA's arguments against the Space Force largely parallel what Mattis, Wilson and other Pentagon officials were saying before Trump's June directive - basically that it is antithetical to their ongoing efforts to cut overhead costs and to integrate, rather than segregate, the military services for joint warfighting in all domains (land, sea, air, space and cyber).

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"It is time to get back to our expeditionary roots", said Goldfein. The massive military exercises recently held in Russian Federation underscore the changing environment.

Valerie Muck, director of the Air Force's small business programs, said 20 percent of the Air Force's eligible dollars went small businesses in fiscal 2018, totaling about $11 billion. "We have to be clear-eyed about the world in which we live". That is especially critical in space programs, she said, because the operators have to be able to influence equipment design. Just a few years ago the Air Force was short 4,000 maintainers.

Shanahan, who is now organizing the Pentagon's efforts on implementing a Space Force, requested relevant offices within the Defense Department to propose concepts for the newest branch.

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