|Leaders Submit 2003 Budget Request to Congress|
Leaders Submit 2003 Budget Request to Congress
By Master Sgt. Ron Tull, Air Force Print News.
Washington D.C. -- (AFPN) March 13, 2002 -- Secretary of the Air Force Dr. James Roche and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper recently submitted the Air Force’s fiscal 2003 budget request to the House Armed Services Committee.
An F-15 Eagle receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker during a combat air patrol mission over Central Florida. Air Force leaders are concerned about the aging 707-based tanker fleet and are seeking funding relief as part of the fiscal 2003 budget request.
Photo by Tech. Sgt. Shaun Withers
The request for $87.2 billion is $6.7 billion more than the request for fiscal 2002. The budget concentrates on procurement of new systems, including the F-22 Raptor, C-17 Globemaster III, Global Hawk, RQ-1 Predator and Joint Direct Attack Munitions.
According to the testimony, Air Force officials view the fiscal 2003 budget as the beginning of the Air Force’s transformation.
"Our vision remains a total air and space force, providing global reconnaissance and strike, to include the movement of troops and their support across the full spectrum of operations," Roche said.
Transformation will bring cultural changes with it also, as both the secretary and chief of staff spoke of "portfolio assets" that each service brings to the fight.
"We are dedicated to the seamless integration of air and space and ground and naval forces, so that we can reap the benefits of this information age on the battlefield," Jumper said.
The personnel slice of the budget includes $222.1 million for selective re-enlistment bonuses as the Air Force puts recruiting and retention of both officer and enlisted at center stage while operations Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle continue.
"We’re trying to figure out what the new steady state is," Jumper said. "The good news is that we have enough flexibility in our system that we can respond to this. But in doing so we work our people very, very hard and we lean very heavily on our Guard and Reserve. We have to figure out a way to get ourselves back to a more normal situation to control the tempo."
Because of the high-operations tempo, airmen in some career fields, such as those working with airborne warning and control system aircraft, have had their "use or lose" leave limit extended from 60 to 80 days. The secretary said they are even looking into a 100-day limit, in case it is needed.
The facilities strategy for fiscal 2003 is focused on sustaining and upgrading current facilities. While the budget for family housing remains almost unchanged from fiscal 2002, the Air Force continues to be a leader in privatization initiatives.
The budget comes with an unfunded priority list attached, in the amount of $3.8 billion, consisting largely of programs that were planned out for years; however, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks gave greater urgency to some of those priorities.
"I am particularly concerned over the age of our 707-based tanker fleet and our intelligence, surveillance reconnaissance fleet," Roche said. "These planes are (more than) 40 years old, and that’s why you’ve seen us try to find innovative ways to replace some of them as soon as we can," he said.
Some of those scenarios include leasing aircraft, in accordance with the rules of Congress.
Prior to Sept. 11, replacement for the 707 airframe was programmed for 2008. Since the attacks, KC-135 Stratotankers have flown nearly 8,000 sorties, and the operations tempo remains high.
"At this point we would just like to get the tanker problem dealt with because we have planes in the air and we want to make sure they’re fueled," Roche said.