Keith’s Congressional Corner

October 1, 2018

October 01, 2018

Keith’s Congressional Corner

“It seems to me that everyone recognizes the importance of airpower to preserve peace. What better organization than the Air Force Association to get that message home to the hearts of the American people!”
Gen Carl A. Spaatz, first Chief of Staff, US Air Force

Welcome to Fiscal Year 2019.

“The Air Force is too small for what the nation expects of us.”
The Honorable Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force
at AFA’s 2018 Air, Space and Cyber Conference


During AFA’s 2018 Air, Space & Cyber Conference, the Air Force announced it needs to increase operational squadrons from 312 to 386–a 24 percent increase. 40,000 new personnel would be needed to fill the desired number of squadrons. If you missed Secretary Wilson’s speech, watch it here.

Growing the Air Force to meet its missions may face a myriad of headwinds. Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 could see the return of the 2011 Budget Control Act spending caps. Currently, DOD seeks an additional $84 billion in FY 2020 and $87 billion for FY 2021 in excess of the caps. Capitol Hill will want more details before increasing the Air Force’s force structure to include the number and type of aircraft needed.

September was also a big month for awards. The Air Force awarded contracts to recapitalize the T-38 Talon trainer with the T-X and to replace the UH-1N helicopter.

Ahead of their usual pace, and before the start of the new fiscal year, Congress completed or neared completion on three mini-bus appropriations bills that will fund the majority of the federal government through FY 2019. The remainder of the agencies will be funded through a continuing resolution (CR) until December 7th.

Most importantly, now that the defense appropriations bill is law, it marks the first time in almost a decade that the Pentagon will get a full year of funding at the beginning of the fiscal year.

“It’s a wonderful thing to see that the Air Force Association has come of age. It’s the kind of an outfit that can stand up on its hind legs and lay it on the line about airpower.”
Brig Gen Jimmy Stewart

AFA thanks all those who supported our 2018 Air, Space and Cyber Conference in September. It was nothing less than spectacular. Along with keynote addresses by SpaceX CEO Gwynne Shotwell and Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, Vice President Mike Pence stopped by to praise AFA and wish the Air Force a happy 71st birthday. Record attendance approached 12,000–an increase of 31.8 percent over last year. We hope you join us in Orlando in February and then again in DC next September. Gen. Dave Goldfein declared once again that it is the Air Force’s #1 professional military education event.

Air Force Highlights

Now is not the time for a new Space Force | 25 Sep 2018 | Air Force Association Press Release

Arlington, VA – The Air Force Association is opposed to establishing a separate military service responsible for space in the foreseeable future.

The current debate about space is good for our nation’s defense. Space assets today enable weapons in air, on land, on and under the sea. As such, any current or future conflict will depend heavily on space so we must be capable of defending those assets. Those arguing for more attention to be paid for defense of space assets so that the U.S. can continue to lead the world in space are absolutely right. However, creating an entirely new service is not the way to achieve that objective; at least not any time soon. Read more.

“We’re making a commitment to our national defense, and we’re gonna make sure you have the best equipment on Earth.”
Vice President Mike Pence
at AFA’s 2018 Air, Space and Cyber Conference

Can The U.S. Air Force Add 74 Squadrons? | 24 Sep 2018 | by Lee Hudson and Jen DiMascio

The U.S. Air Force’s proposal to increase in size by nearly 25% is being greeted with a mix of admiration and skepticism, as it sets the stage for future budget debates.

The service’s plans for increasing purchases of the B-21 bomber, KC-46 tanker and F-35 all hit in the middle of the next decade, at the same time costs also take off for the new T-X trainer and Ground-based Strategic Deterrent—the ICBM to replace the Minuteman III. Read more.

“Our operational squadrons are the clenched fist of American resolve.”
The Honorable Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force
at AFA’s 2018 Air, Space and Cyber Conference

The Air Force We NeedRead more.

The Air Force We Have: 312 Operational Squadrons
The Air Force We Need: 386 Operational Squadrons

– Airlift (53 Sq) + 1 = 54
– Bombers (9 Sq) + 5 = 14
– Combat Search & Rescue (27 Sq) + 9 = 36
– Command & Control-Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (40 Sq) + 22 = 62
– Cyber (18 Sq) = 18
– Fighters (55 Sq) + 7 = 62
– Missile (9 Sq) = 9
– Strike/Reconnaissance – Remotely Pilot Aircraft (25 Sq) + 2 = 27
– Space (16 Sq) + 7 = 23
– Special Operations Forces (20 Sq) + 7 = 27
– Tankers (40 Sq) +14 = 54

What it Will Take: Support from Congress; Long-term commitment to grow; Budget predictability and Stability; Trained, equipped and ready airmen

Trump’s Space Force may come with a big price tag, and no one can agree how to structure it | 22 Sep 2018 | by Loren Grush

Two months after Vice President Mike Pence announced the plan to create a Space Force, the military is fighting over how to make it happen. This week, an internal Air Force estimate leaked to the press that said the Space Force would cost nearly $13 billion to create.

On Monday, multiple outlets reported that they had received an internal memo, signed by US Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and dated September 14th, that said creating both a Space Force and a unified space command would cost $3.3 billion for fiscal year 2020. The memo, tweeted out by Inside Defense reporter Courtney Albon, showed that more than 13,000 new personnel would be needed, as well as a five-year budget of $12.9 billion.

That’s a lot of money to create a separate branch of the military that would effectively do what the Defense Department does now. Read more.

Trump signs the largest VA budget ever | 22 Sep 2018 | by Leo Shane III

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed the Department of Veterans Affairs fiscal 2019 budget into law on Friday giving the department a funding boost of more than 6 percent and pushing the agency’s total spending over $200 billion for the first time. Read more.

Roper Sees Hypersonic Weapon Operational Circa 2020, But Only First Version | 20 Sep 2018 | by John Tirpak

Speaking with reporters at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference, Roper said that of all the services that are pursuing hypersonic weapons, USAF “has the easiest path to fielding.” The initial version of the weapon will likely be carried by a B-52, which he said is “very forgiving” in terms of the size of munitions.

FY 2019 Defense Appropriations Bill & Continuing Resolution (CR) Summary

Bloomberg Government | 18 Sep 2018 | by Sarah Babbage, Michael Smallberg and Adam M. Taylor

The Defense Department and related programs would receive $674.4 billion for fiscal 2019, $19.8 billion more than the current year. The total would include $606.5 billion in base funding and $67.9 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds that aren’t subject to discretionary spending caps.

Aircraft- Provides $9.34 billion for 93 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters–16 more than requested. Appropriates $2.3 billion for 15 KC-46A tankers.

Base Realignment & Closure (BRAC)- Prohibits DOD’s use of funds to conduct another round of base realignment and closure activities.

Continuing Resolution (CR)- Extends funding for some federal agencies through Dec. 7 at the levels provided by the fiscal 2018 omnibus.

Electronic Health Records- Require the Government Accountability Office to review the implementation of MHS GENESIS, DOD’s next-generation electronic health record system.

Pay Raise- 2.6 percent pay increase for military personnel starting Jan. 1, 2019.

FY 2019 Military Construction (MILCON)-Veterans Affairs (VA) Appropriations Bill Summary
Bloomberg Government | 11 Sep 2018 | by Michael Smallberg

The Veterans Affairs Department would receive a 6.2 percent discretionary funding boost in fiscal 2019, including $1.11 billion for a new electronic health record system, under the conference report on H.R. 5895, a minibus appropriations package that includes Military Construction-VA funding.

The MilCon-VA section would provide $97.1 billion in net discretionary funding subject to spending caps, $5.15 billion more than in the fiscal 2018 omnibus and $1.01 billion more than the president requested, according to the joint explanatory statement on the conference report.


The agreement would provide a net $10.3 billion in base funding for military construction and family housing, $241 million more than in fiscal 2018 and $130.6 million less than requested. Would provide $921.4 million in OCO funding, $171.4 million more than in fiscal 2018 and the same as requested.

Arlington National Cemetery- Army cemetery expenses would include $33.6 million to design and construct a southern expansion at Arlington National Cemetery.

Quotes to Note

  • “That’s the only way that we’re going to restore enough time to prepare for a high-end fight, by reducing our commitment to the fight against violent extremism, which has put tremendous pressure on the Air Force.”
    – The Honorable Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force
  • “The first long pole in the tent for us for readiness was getting enough people.”
    – The Honorable Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force
  • “Today we have not just one adversary, we have many potential adversaries, and everything that we do in all parts of the world impacts everybody else.”
    – Gen John Hyten, Commander, US Strategic Command
  • “STRATCOM comprises 162,000 service members who are serving around the globe. They climb down into the holes of the missile fields and they climb onto a submarine and they go on alert. They fly the bombers. They go to work in the space business.”
    – Gen John Hyten, Commander, US Strategic Command

Your Air Force – Did You Know?

Gen. Maryanne Miller, new Commander of Air Mobility Command, became the first Airman in the history of the Air Force Reserve to pin on a fourth star while actively serving. In 2016, she became the first female chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of the Air Force Reserve Command.

Last month the Air Force and Germany celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift. The 1948-1949 operation demonstrated the mission capability of the U.S. Air Force highlighted by more than two million tons of supplies distributed over more than 200,000 flights.

Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) was activated Sept. 1,1982 and is an Air Force major command with headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, CO. AFSPC, with more than 30,000 space professionals worldwide, has a mission to provide resilient, defendable and affordable space capabilities for the Air Force, Joint Force and the Nation.

Key Dates to Watch


  • Oct 1 – FY 2019 Begins
  • Oct 25 – Unveiling of The Legacy Wall (Doolittle Brick Campaign), AFA HQ
    Order your personalized brick here.
  • Nov 14 – AFA Breakfast with Gen Stephen “Seve” Wilson, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, Key Bridge Marriott
  • Dec 7 – Mitchell Institute Breakfast with Gen John Raymond, Commander, Air Force Space Command, Capitol Hill Club


  • Feb 27-Mar 1 – AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium, Orlando, FL

If you have questions, please contact:

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