Air Guard director nominee enters budget buzzsaw

Air Guard director nominee enters budget buzzsaw

President Obama has nominated Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III as the next Air Guard director to take over for Lt. Gen.  Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt, who is scheduled to retire in January.

Wyatt has had a front row seat to the battle between the active duty and Air Guard this past year after the Air Force issued its proposal for the 2013 defense budget that included sweeping cuts to the Guard. The Air Force proposed cutting a significantly higher proportion of Guard force structure and personnel in order to save the active duty from the budget shears.

Wyatt found himself in a difficult position throughout this debate. While he is the leader of the Guard, the Air Force chief of staff is still his boss. He sat behind former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley during the contentious budget hearings on the Hill. Wyatt also had to answer to the Council of Governors and the adjutant generals outraged with the Air Force leadership for gutting the Guard after a decade in which the service has leaned on its reserve force to maintain operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Congress struck down the proposed Guard cuts, but the budget battle continues as the Air Force tries to figure out how to balance the cuts ordered by the president. If Congress fails to avoid sequestration at the end of the year, the budget knives will get sharper and the debate stronger over where the Air Force can afford to cut.

Enter Clarke, the commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command Region-1st Air Force, who will take the reins of the Guard from Wyatt. A command pilot with 31 years served to include a tour as the defense attaché for the Office of Defense Cooperation Turkey in Ankara, leading the Guard in these fiscal times is sure to be his largest challenge to date.

Plenty of questions remain for the Guard. The service had planned to cut 5,100 airmen from the Guard while only cutting 3,900 from active duty. Congress ripped service leadership for those cuts while also criticizing the Air Force’s decision to retire Guard aircraft and shut down Guard units to protect the active duty.

The fate of those cuts has not been settled since the cuts to the Air Force’s budget remain on the books and Air Force leaders have not backed down from their stance that the proposals they made in the 2013 defense budget remain the service’s best option. In many ways, the debate has been put on hold until the Pentagon knows for sure in January if it will sustain the $500 billion in sequestration cuts over the next decade.

As long as Clarke’s nomination is approved by Congress, he could be taking over right when the Air Force budget debate ramps back up. Of course, the hearings for his nomination will turn into a soap box for every Senator who stands to lose an Air Guard unit from their state to rip the Air Force again for the 2013 budget proposal. So there is the potential that a Senator will block the nomination as a political vehicle to grab attention for their respective unit.

Clarke will have to serve as a conduit between the Air Force senior leadership and the Guard lobbying arms to find a negotiated peace to avoid the consternation seen on Capitol Hill this past year. The battle between the Guard and active duty could serve as a severe disadvantage for the service at a time when the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps will be at each other’s throats to protect their piece of the budget pie.

Plenty of major Air Force modernization programs sit on the horizon to include the long range bomber program. Early indications are that the White House wants to protect the long range bomber as part of their new defense strategy, but early decisions in funding will have serious ramifications in its development over the next decade. A divide in the Air Force family does not necessarily put these programs at risk, but it doesn’t help at such a critical time.

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Just cut the $400 billion F-35, the Navy’s $40 billion LCS, and the Air Force’s next gen bomber. Oh, and cut about 90% out of the $700 billion dollars spent on nuclear weapons that we don’t need. Problem solved. We need to get real and cut Pentagon spending.

These generals agree: http://​www​.cnn​.com/​2​0​1​2​/​1​2​/​1​2​/​o​p​i​n​i​o​n​/​g​a​r​d​-​j​o​hns–

I’m trying not to be too condescending here but you really do not know what you’re talking about and often, neither do the people who write the “studies”.

For example, cutting 90% of nuclear weapons funding. Much of the funding is to cover fixed costs and they are largely all or nothing and are the same for 100 weapons as they are for 1000 or 10000 weapons. Unless you are going to cut 100% of the weapons, then the cost is what it is.
Believe me, the Generals know this but choose to pontificate as it helps their interests by being in concert with the interests of the think tanks that employ them.

You are kind of idealistic and that goes along with where you are in your career but I’ll tell you what you will see flying during your Navy career if F-35 goes away. F-18 E/Fs forever… not the International Roadmap, not some future versions, it will be what is out there now. Having seen what happened as the Navy cancelled one new plane after another, I see that history repeating itself and gradually more and more mission areas get abandoned.

True, I don’t know all about nuclear weapons spending. I was mostly going off what the generals in that article were saying. We have WAY more nuclear weapons than we actually need. If our arsenal was cut some numbers it wouldn’t hurt our defense.

What examples of aircraft are you think of? If the Navy cancels the F-35C I sincerely hope they upgrade the F/A-18E/Fs with some of the freed funds. The Navy is looking to upgrade the Super Hornet as far as I know. The AMC Type 4 that the Navy is funding is designed to be compatible with a glass cockpit, which is exactly what Boeing is developing for the Super Hornet right now. There have been some instances of Navy strike aircraft receiving various upgrades like the F-8 and F-14 receiving IR-sensors.

The money that gets freed up from JSF will go into the recapitalization program that comes after JSF. Look at the Army. After Comanche died, money went into its numerous “successors”, to no avail…

Dont matter its all inside war of words. Overall USAF could save money buy killing F-35 and Kill CSR-X which are both BIG waste of money. Buy more upgrades for F-15 and F-22 buy more UH-60s and convert them for SAR use. But the corrupt money and corrupt Generals with pet project wont allow it so its over the fiscal cliff and bye bye money to all.

Aside from the money spent on the ARH mess, most of the Comanche funds were spent upgrading the rest of the fleet just as they were getting worn out from the war. We were able to fully upgrade the blackhawk fleet, replace half the Chinook engines, field the Lakota, and give them all a common cockpit.

In other news Canada has officially scrapped the F-35 purchase: http://​www​.theglobeandmail​.com/​n​e​w​s​/​p​o​l​i​t​i​c​s​/​o​tta

The upgrading of airframes depends on the number of hours on that airframe in reference to the design
life cycle for the airframe. The F-14 was retired due to maintenance costs. The F-18C/D is at the end of it’s airframe life cycle, whcih is why the US Navy and Marines don’t want to SLEP them. F-18E/F can perform many of the missions, but not all of the missions for the US Navy and can’t replace the AV-8B for the Marines. The F-35 is an attempt to make one airframe fit all missions. The F-35 will not be able to replace the A-10 in any practical sense. The Pentagon has to purchase new hardware or reduce the missions it can perform radically.

The DOD should dust off the Goldwater Report that recommended that the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard be combined into one unit. There would savings in manpower and funds.
Colonel Roger L. Hatton, USAF, Retired

Where would savings come from? Overhead?

There will never be a solution to this problem until congress stops worrying about thier reelection and starts to make the hard choices needed. Lets be honest. This has nothing about what’s good for the military services…It’s about not losing jobs and money.…and more importantly VOTES in my district

Combine the reserves into the Guard!!…save billions and have a “worthwhile” reserve force!


Definitely worth looking into

Agreed — we do NOT need two part-time militaries, and the ANG diverts some money to maintaining a duplicate staff, mahogany offices, etc.

How does that fix anything? Yeah, you’ve cut programs and temporarily saved some money. But all of those requirements still exist. That means money will still have to be spent on something new to fill those requirements. So chances are you’ll end up spending $400 billion on some other new fighters, which won’t be ready by the time the F-35 would have been. Doing nothing isn’t making the USAF’s strategic bomber force any younger, larger, or more capable.

I agree with you about the LCS. While there is a lack of alternatives with the F-35 and a new bomber, there are some very good (and cheaper) frigates on the market. These provide most of the capabilities of the LCS, and are better armed. If NIH is a problem, we could certainly design a similar frigate as opposed to licensing a design. Of course that is presuming the Navy and DoD doesn’t start adding a ton of new requirements. And they have a bad habit of doing that even when foreign designs are licensed for production here.

Those LCS already built or in construction can still be quite useful.

The fact that the Guard, Reserves and Congress continue to insist on a 50 State part time Air Force is what is insane. Want to save money? Give the funding bill for each of these pet rocks to their respective Governors and state gov’t and I’d think you’d see an entirely different make up. Just saying


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