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Goldfein addresses readiness, budget

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Military vice chiefs testified about the current state of readiness of U.S. forces before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support on Capitol Hill March 15.

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein shared concerns about the service’s ability to continue to defend against adversaries who continue to improve their capabilities.

The vice chief told the committee that America’s adversaries are closing the capability gap in space and cyberspace. According to Goldfein, the strategic capability advantage over competitors is shrinking, and the ability to project strategic deterrence is being challenged.

He stated that the Air Force continues to provide the lion’s share of military effort against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the Middle East and is heavily active in Afghanistan. He added that a return of sequestration would impair and delay readiness goals.

“The fiscal year 2017 budget reflects our best efforts to balance capability, capacity and readiness under the top line we receive,” Goldfein said. “We’ve made difficult trades between readiness today and the critical investment required to modernize for the future against potential adversaries who continue to close the technological gap.”

The full-spectrum readiness capability is the right amount of Airmen, properly led, trained and equipped, to accomplish the mission in support of the joint force, and this cannot be achieved without investing in total force Airmen, the vice chief said.

Readiness is measured by critical skills availability, weapons system sustainment and training resource availability, as well as the flying hour program and manageable operational tempo. In order for the Air Force to maintain its advantage, sufficient funding, more manpower and better deployment-to-dwell time ratios are needed to balance readiness across the board.

The Army and Marine Corps, Goldfein said, depend on responsive airlift, not less airlift. The Air Force must have the capability to engage anytime, anywhere and complete readiness to provide reliable strategic nuclear deterrent.

“This budget request is an investment in the Air Force our nation needs,” he said. “America expects it, combatant commanders require it, and with your support for this budget request, our Airmen will deliver it.”