AFA’s Legislative Priorities

At the heart of AFA’s mission is this phrase: “Promote dominant U.S. Air & Space Forces as the foundation of a strong National Defense.”

Widely respected in Congress, AFA works to influence and educate lawmakers on legislative issues affecting the Air and Space Forces. Airmen and Guardians face rising challenges around the world at a time when our Air and Space Forces are older, smaller, and less ready than at any point in history. Over the past two decades, the Air Force’s capability and capacity to fight has declined in significant ways, as planes aged, and readiness eroded. The combination of rising global challenges and declining readiness put our national security at risk.  

The United States must reverse this decline with robust investment in both advanced military capabilities and in increased capacity to wage sustained military operations. Collectively, the solutions outlined here will help our nation remain the world’s leading air and space power for years to come. 

AFA’s Fiscal 2025 Legislative Priorities

1. Increasing the Personnel Strength of the Space Force

The U.S. Space Force was established in 2019 in response to growing threats that challenged our current capabilities, and to which U.S. countermeasures had not yet been developed. Therefore, the Space Force was established using initial manning levels that did not reflect these growing threats or future requirements. However, since its inception, the Space Force has been developing countermeasures to these threats with new architectures. The Air & Space Forces Association strongly believes that these solutions require significant additional manpower to implement them. Read More →

2. Aircraft Recapitalization of the Air Force, Reserve and National Guard

Under current Air Force plans, the service intends to retire over 600 tactical aircraft over the next five years, while only acquiring 246. That’s a reduction in the size of the force by almost 350 aircraft. Simultaneously, it has been reported that President Xi of China has directed his military to be able to conduct a successful invasion of Taiwan by 2027—a threat CIA Director William Burns has publicly warned should not be underestimated. Accordingly, though development delays continue, it is in the United States best interest to acquire as many aircraft as possible to deter this strategic threat. That includes the only stealth fighter in production: the F-35.

Therefore, the Air & Space Forces Association respectfully requests that the defense committees maximize the number of F-35As and increase the number of F-15EXs to be procured in the FY’25 NDAA. Read More → 

3. Flexible Software Funding on JADC2

The distinctions between software development and sustainment continue to fade. Specifically, software development and sustainment has become a holistic endeavor in which the software of weapons systems is continually developed and improved to upgrade system performance. Despite this, funds continue to be allocated for software under two different funding mechanisms: the Program Management Office, for development; and Weapon System Sustainment, for sustainment. What is required is a new mechanism which combines these two elements into a single, flexible funding structure, commonly referred to as “colorless” funding.

Congress has seen the potential benefits of adopting such an approach by authorizing three separate programs as a trial for this proposal: the Strategic Mission Planning and Execution System; the Defense Enterprise Accounting and Management System; and the Space Force’s Kobayashi Maru project. Based upon this progress, the Air & Space Forces Association respectfully requests the Congress further grant the military services the ability to utilize colorless software funding structures and authorize its use on the Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) program. Read More →

4. Funding the Childcare Strategic Plan

The demand for on-installation center-based childcare and Family Childcare homes exceeds current capacity. For example, in 2022 the Air Force reported over 4,800 children, who were under the age of five and dependents of Air Force personnel, were unable to enroll in on-base child development programs. That is over 10 percent of the total number of dependents enrolled. The average wait time for enrollment was 130 days.

Fortunately, the 2023 Childcare Strategic Plan (CSP) was recently published which offers solutions to many of these problems. The CSP focuses on access to childcare through three objectives: maximizing available options, expanding capacity, and increasing DAF childcare program awareness and leveraging feedback. Despite this, the CSP neither contained estimates as to the costs for achieving its objectives nor an examination as to the most effective funding mechanism. Many incorrectly assume DAF childcare is a self-sustaining program. Unfortunately, current costs of care far exceed income.

Accordingly, the Air & Space Forces Association respectfully requests that the Secretary of Air Force publishes a follow-on report which articulates the costs required to implement the CSP’s proposed solutions and identifies the most effective funding mechanisms to achieve those objectives. This follow-on report should also contain timelines for achieving the CSP’s objectives based upon the proposed funding levels. Read More →

5. Exploiting Commercial Space

To remain a lean service and garner the capabilities needed to maintain our nation’s advantage in space, the U.S. Space Force needs to buy available commercial space services, integrate those capabilities into organic Space Force capabilities, and deliver those forces to Combatant Commands. Buying services, where available, is a responsible way to garner capability rapidly and free limited resources to develop capabilities only for missions where no commercial services exist.

Therefore, the Air & Space Forces Association respectfully requests that Congress further increase funding for the purchase of Space Domain Awareness (SDA), Space Mobility & Logistics (SML), and for Tactical Surveillance, Reconnaissance & Tracking (TSRT) products and services to encourage private investment in these areas of the space warfighting domain. Read More →

6. Mitigate Pass-Through

Currently, 20 percent of the Department of the Air Force’s budget “passes through” to other governmental programs.  In 2020, this totaled $39.2 billion and increased to $44 billion last year. With the Air Force’s responsibilities growing exponentially in the Pacific and Europe, the Air & Space Force Association believes Congress and the public must be able to make an apples-to-apples comparison of the investment they are making in the Air Force and Space Force’s capabilities.  

Therefore, AFA respectfully requests the congressional defense committees direct the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence to commission an independent research organization to perform an analysis of the positive and negative effects that “Pass-Through” has on the Department of the Air Force’s budget. Read More →