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Air Force officials stress balance in face of budget constraints

Lt. Gen. Sam Cox, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, testifies before the House Armed Services Committee military personnel subcommittee, in Washington, D.C., March 26, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)

Lt. Gen. Sam Cox, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, testifies before the House Armed Services Committee military personnel subcommittee, in Washington, D.C., March 26, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) --

While testifying on Capitol Hill March 25, DoD’s top personnel leaders all agreed that in light of likely future budget reductions, slowing compensation and benefits growth is a difficult but necessary step to balance the rising cost of personnel with readiness and modernization requirements.

“The Air Force continues to balance today’s missions with tomorrow’s requirements in a constrained budget environment,” said Lt. Gen. Sam Cox, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services. “We will manage the force with a focus on deliberately shaping and sizing the force to meet future mission needs, while also balancing the likelihood of decreased budgets in the foreseeable future.”

Jessica Wright, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told the House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel subcommittee DOD’s vision for balance is reflected in its recommendations for pay and benefits in the department’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal.

“We're asking for a one percent [military pay raise], as opposed to a higher percentage, so we can slow that growth of a military member's pay, and also be able to bolster their readiness and bolster [the] force and bolster their modernization,” she said.

While spending cuts are imminent, Cox has not lost sight of the impact Airmen bring to contingency operations around the globe.

“Our Airmen remain at the forefront of today’s conflicts, serving proudly alongside our joint partners,” he said. “We anticipate combatant commander requirements for manned and unmanned intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, personnel rescue and recovery, fighter/attack, and airlift assets will remain high while the demand for the land component force requirements continues in the Central Command area of responsibility.”

All service personnel specialists agreed training and equipping service members must not be sacrificed for quality of life initiatives.

Service members’ lifestyles are good, Wright said, and the budget proposal seeks to slow the rate of growth in compensation.

The concentration is on balance among all services, to achieve the current and future budget goals, Wright added.

“Our Airmen and their families continue to be the foundation of the success of our Air Force,” Cox said. “We are confident, keeping faith with our commitment to train and equip the highest quality Airmen, that our Air Force will remain capable of overcoming any challenge or adversary.”

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