February 20, 2020

Keith's Congressional Corner

“We must not only retain our technical edge over potential adversaries, but we must expand it … [we] will continue investments in modernization and advanced capabilities to better equip our people to prevail in the high-end fight.”
- The Honorable Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force

Last week, the president released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 President’s Budget (PB).

Although the FY 2021 budget had some good items for our U.S. Air Force (USAF) and U.S. Space Force (USSF), in several areas it lacked the needed resources to keep our Air Force and Space Force dominant. The Department of the Air Force, which now includes both services, needs sufficient resources to grow, to modernize, and to improve its lethality to remain well ahead of our near-peer competitors. In the meantime, the department is forced to train and equip two military services—with the budget of one. Current capability is being traded for future modernization.

In the $4.8 trillion federal budget, the administration proposes $740.5 billion (B) ($705.4B for Department of Defense (DoD); $35B for Department of Energy) in overall national defense spending. [Note: Most government agencies had funding cuts. Only NASA and four departments saw funding increases.] FY 2021 is the last year of the sequestration budget caps, however, this defense spending is in line with last summer’s Bipartisan Budget Act and is a $0.8 billion increase above the 2020 enacted level of $712B for base and the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) warfighting fund.  Without accounting for inflation, it’s essentially a flat defense budget compared to this year.

Defense reaps 3.2 percent of our nation’s GDP (gross domestic product), while non-defense spending reaches 3.1 percent of GDP.

In leading up to this budget, the Pentagon identified in excess of $5B, for shifts in money to higher-priority initiatives such as nuclear modernization, space, missile defense, hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence and next-generation communications and force readiness. The request for Research, Development, Test & Evaluation (RDT&E) is the largest development request ever.

It is important to remember that the PB release is the start of the FY 2021 budgetary process. Congressional posture budget hearings will start next week with the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Comptroller.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s theme for the new budget "supports irreversible implementation of the National Defense Strategy." Since the Department of the Air Force was recognized by the National Defense Strategy Commission as being at the forefront of any future military action, all we need now is for the Congress to fund it sufficiently.

Here is some key AFA messaging in order to advocate for the Air Force:  Air Force Association’s Legislative Issues – 2020 and Air Force Association’s Top Issues – 2020.

We look forward to having many of you join us next week at AFA’s annual Air Warfare Symposium at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando, Florida. It will be the most widely attended AWS ever.

Air Force Highlights

"The Department of the Air Force FY 2021 Budget builds toward the future Air and Space Forces We Need to win against any adversary, across all domains. It is designed to meet both today’s and tomorrow’s challenges by supporting military readiness and investing in leading-edge innovation for the future fight. For the first time, this budget request includes the newly established United States Space Force which will unify, focus, and accelerate the development of doctrine, capabilities, and expertise to outpace future threats. The Department of the Air Force FY 2021 budget request is approximately $169 billion dollars.
The U.S. Air Force FY 2021 budget request is approximately $153.6 billion dollars, a decrease from the FY 2020 request due to the transfer of funding to the U.S. Space Force. The FY 2021 U.S. Space Force budget is approximately $15.4 billion."

- $705.4B defense budget [$637B base budget and $69B for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)]; [Flat budget, not increased for inflation]

   -- Trades off aircraft fleets and some programs for emerging technologies; trades off today’s force for tomorrow’s force
   -- Procurement:  $136.8B [$6.8B decrease from current year]
   -- $11.4B to procure 79 F-35s total [2 fewer than current year]
   -- $17.7B for nuclear modernization and to boost nuclear weapons
   -- $4.2B to improve nation’s nuclear command and control system [$700M increase over current year]
   -- RDT&E:  $106.5B budget [$2B increase over current year]
   -- Artificial Intelligence: $841 million (M)
   -- Hypersonics: $3.2B [$459M increase over current year = 23 percent increase]

- $207.2 billion for Department of the Air Force (Air Force and Space Force)
   -- $177.9B for the Department of the Army
   -- $207.1B for Department of the Navy (Navy and Marine Corps)
   -- $113.2B for Defense Wide efforts

   -- $5.7B in Program reductions
      --- ‘Right-sized’ approximately 50 medical facilities across the country.
      --- ‘Stars and Stripes’ newspaper funding will be cut
      --- DoD’s Chief Management Officer will conduct review in 2020 for additional Defense agency cuts
      -- Cyberspace: $9.8B

- Infrastructure: $21B

- Nuclear/TRIAD:  Nuclear weapons get a big boost in funding; nuclear deterrence underwrites our nation’s security

   -- $28.9B to modernize nuclear delivery systems
   -- $19.8B for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)

- Personnel:

   -- Military Pay (MILPAY): 3.0 percent pay raise for military members
   -- Basic Allowance for Housing(BAH): Increase of 3.3 percent
   -- Child Care improvements
   -- DoD Schools improvements
   -- Privatized Housing:  Increased oversight by 82 percent
- Readiness: $125B

- Modernizes all domains 

Department of the Air Force

- $207.2B for Department of the Air Force (Air Force and Space Force)

   -- $156.3B  Blue budget [$900M increase over current year, or essentially flat]
   -- $38.2B Non-Blue (Pass-Through) that goes to other agencies and is not under control of the Department of the Air Force

"Victory in future combat will depend less on individual capabilities and more on the integrated strengths of a connected battlefield network.
- Gen. David Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force

- USAF: “Takes calculated risk in near term capacity.”

   -- US is being challenged across all domains
   -- Theme: Investing in future Air and Space Forces
   -- Includes first ever Space Force request
   -- Conducted Zero Based Review of all programs
   -- Will retire some aircraft prior to schedule
   -- $4.1B in reform across the future years defense plan (FYDP) shifted to address future concerns
   -- AF wanted to accelerate future capability
   -- Supports 1 percent Civilian pay raise

   -- MILCON (Military Construction & Family Housing) Note: Funds USAF and USSF MILCON:  $1.4B [$5.3B in current year][This will be detrimental to Airmen and their Families]

      --- Supports MILCON beddown of added F-35s and KC-46s

   -- Operations & Maintenance (O&M):  $53.1B [$50.2B in current year]

   -- Personnel: $29.5B [$27.7B in current year]

   -- Procurement: $22.9B

   -- RDT&E: $26.9B [$25.4B in current year; 5th straight yearly increase]

- Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO): $21.6B [$14.3B in current year]

   -- A-10 modernization
   -- Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) system development
   -- B-21 Bomber:  $2.8B for B-21 Raider stealth bomber [$100M decrease from current year]
   -- F-15EX:  Procures 12 F-15EX fighters  [4 more than current year]
   -- F-22: Advanced sensor capabilities
   -- F-35:  Procures 48 F-35s [This number is dangerously low.]
   -- “Dual Capable” nuclear weapon-carrying F-35: $110M to continue development [$40M increase over current year]
   -- GPS: Procures two GPS III follow-on satellites
   -- Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) ICBM:  $1.5B
   -- HH-60W Helicopters: 16 Combat Search and Rescue helicopters
   -- Expands Joint Domain Air Command & Control (JDAC2) integration
   -- KC-46 Air Refueling Tankers: Procures 15 tankers
   -- Long-Range Standoff (LRSO) Cruise missile:  $500M for [$200M decrease from current year]
   -- Munitions: Provides for fewer munitions purchases in compared to current year
   -- National Security Space Launch vehicles: Funds 3
   -- Develops Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD)
   -- Personnel: Grows Total Military Force end strength by 1,500 to 512,000  [This is 1/3 of an increase compared to this current year
      --- 900 Active Duty
      --- 400 Air National Guard (ANG)
      --- 100 Air Force Reserve (AFR)
   -- Redirects funding for combat flying hours, weapons sustainment and training from aging, legacy aircraft to F-35 fighters and KC-46 tankers
   -- Retires hundreds of USAF aircraft over the next five years ahead of schedule — including B-1 bombers; A-10 attack planes; F-15 and F-16 fighter jets; C-130H cargo planes; KC-10 and KC-135 aerial tankers; and Global Hawks
      --- Cuts aircraft in FY 2021: 17 B-1B Lancers; 21 RQ-4s; 3 EQ-4 Global Hawk variants; 44 A-10s from both the Guard and Reserve; 24 C-130Hs from the Air National Guard

“Space has become a warfighting domain...it is imperative that we train and equip forces to ensure freedom of action and deliver vital space capabilities to Joint and Coalition forces in all phases of conflict.”
- Gen. Jay Raymond, Chief of Space Operations

- USSF$15.4B “transitional budget’ transferred from the USAF to the USSF [Note: AFA remains concerned that the Department of the Air Force is funding two services with the budget of one. In lieu of some of the pass-through money or new money, the USAF will be the bill payer for the USSF]
   -- $15.4B [$14.6B in current year.  Despite the emphasis on space, it increased only $800M in FY2021 (4th straight year of increased funding) but is essentially flat.]
      --- Operations & Maintenance (O&M):  $2.5B [$2.2B in current year]
      --- RDT&E:  $10.3B [$9.8B in current year]
   -- Funding “Includes space-related weapons systems and operations” sustainment, support and civilian support cost--an increase from $40M this FY
   -- Total size of new space service could climb to 9,979; civilians will make up one-third of the service
      --- The Space Force is projected to grow to 6,434 troops and 3,545 civilian personnel in fiscal 2021
      --- Major increase from the 38 service members and 122 civilians envisioned for this fiscal year
      --- Purchases launch services
      --- Emphasizes Space Control; Missile Warning Capability; National Security Space Launch; GPS Improvements

The government must be honest when funding the Air Force and Space Force
DefenseNews.com | 19 Feb 2020 | by Keith Zuegel, Air Force Association
Air and space are critical domains for our national security, yet our nation has consistently failed to invest sufficiently in these requirements. As a result, today’s U.S. Air Force is older and smaller than at any time in its history, even as it begins to birth the new U.S. Space Force with massive funding needs of its own.
The Department of the Air Force, which encompasses both the Air Force and the Space Force, faces daunting demands. Within the budget of a single service, it must modernize its geriatric fleet to remain the world’s predominant Air Force, while building up the nascent Space Force to ensure it remains ahead of its near-peer competitors, China and Russia.
USAF Budget Request Flat in 2021
AirForceMag.com | 10 Feb 2020 | by John Tirpak
The Department of the Air Force’s $207.2 billion topline spending request for fiscal 2021 is identical to the enacted fiscal 2020 budget, fulfilling recent USAF leaders’ predictions of flat budgets ahead.
Of that, $154.62 billion funds the U.S. Air Force, $15.38 billion funds the new U.S. Space Force, and $38.2 billion is non-blue pass-through funds, which is not controlled by either service and is distributed to other defense agencies for secret work, most of which is space-oriented. The “pass through” request declined slightly, from the enacted $39 billion in 2020. Although defense and USAF leaders have recently reported high-level discussions about doing away with the pass-through idiosyncrasy, it remains part of the 2021 budget.
Space Force Requests $15.4 Billion in Fiscal 2021
AirForceMag.com | 10 Feb 2020 | by Rachel S. Cohen
The Space Force is requesting $15.4 billion in fiscal 2021 for its first full year of operations, ballooning from its $40 million allotment from Congress in 2020.
The fledgling service was created under the Department of the Air Force in December by the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. As the Air Force shifts much of its space enterprise into the new service, overall space funding is set to grow by $900 million. 
Legacy Fleets Take Hit to Pay for RDT&E Funding
AirForceMag.com | 10 Feb 2020 | by Brian Everstine
The Pentagon’s fiscal 2021 budget request increases spending on nuclear modernization, space, cyberspace, and multi-domain operations in preparation for great power competition, while proposing to cut dozens of aircraft from the fleet and reducing overseas contingency operations funding for the wars in the Middle East.

Key Dates to Watch


  • Feb 26-28 - AFA's Air Warfare Symposium

  • Sep 14-16 - AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference, Gaylord Conference Center, National Harbor, MD

If you have questions, please contact:

Keith Zuegel, (Ret.), USAF
Senior Director, Government Relations
Air Force Association (AFA)