Thursday, June 02, 2005

Defense Tech: Pilot Training Time Slashed

Kos pointed today to an article on Defense Tech (quoting from Defense news), which noted that due to budget cuts and bloated pet projects the Air Force is severely cutting back on pilot training time.
Air Combat Command (ACC), the primary provider of combat airpower, is cutting 32,000 flying hours to help compensate for its $825 million operations and maintenance shortfall.

The cuts come as Air Force aircrews are heavily worked, flying missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and over some U.S. cities in an attempt to prevent another terrorist attack.

"Starting early this summer, units may have aviators unable to get required training to maintain full combat-ready status," Col. Jim Dunn, deputy director of flight operations for ACC, said in a written statement. "Overall effectiveness will become a growing challenge."

With this cut, the command now has 21,000 flying hours left of the original 53,000-plus hours programmed for the rest of this fiscal year -- a 60 percent reduction...

Retired Gen. Hal Hornburg, former ACC commander, said the cuts are "a big deal" and show the military's grim financial situation.

"They're not cutting fat, they're cutting to the bone," Hornburg said, noting the Pentagon has taken large sums of money away from the Air Force to pay for the Army in Iraq.

Reducing flying hours will free up about $272 million, not quite a third of the command's shortfall, said Col. Dave Goossens, ACC comptroller.
This strikes me as odd, given that Rumsfeld and Co. seem to think that airpower can almost single handedly win wars. I don't really understand how budget appropriations works within the services, but could it be that the Air Force is trying to poke the secretary in the eye, so to speak, for cutting their overall budget by making cuts to something important (both to Rummy and to the AF)? Or could it be that the pork projects are too well protected by corporate friendly insiders? It really makes absolutely no sense to me- anyone else have any insights?