WASHINGTON -- Air Force readiness was the topic of concern for the Air Force's senior leader as he addressed members of the Air Force Association and the media during the association's monthly breakfast, in Arlington, Va., Nov. 18. "Air Force readiness has suffered an "increased level of risk' as a result of sequestration," said Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning.
Describing the service's readiness situation as being "murky," he summarized what risk a decreased readiness level could mean for the Air Force.
It's the "risk that fewer of our Airmen and fewer of our planes will come back (from operations)," Fanning said.
The model of Air Force readiness, which has aircraft and Airmen ready to respond at a moment's notice, includes flying hours for squadrons of pilots, which enables them to deliver airpower across the globe when needed.
"We have to be able to move right away," Fanning said. "The sequester does not allow us to maintain our readiness model through the next five years." Under sequestration, the Air Force, along with its sister services, have to make significant cuts rapidly.
"There's no ramp built into sequestration," Fanning said. "The cuts are instantaneous."
In order to meet the cuts required by sequestration, Fanning said the service will have to cut approximately 25,000 Airmen and 550 aircraft.
"We don't get savings by taking a squadron from every fleet," he said. "You have to take the entire fleet and everything that surrounds them."
Fanning noted the Air Force isn't alone when it comes to feeling impacts of sequestration. Sequestration is being felt throughout the Department of Defense.
"It's a tremendous hit for readiness; all the services are feeling it," he said. "Every service is taking a different strategy. Across all the services, we're all struggling. We're all approaching it a different way." Fanning summarized the Air Force's near future concisely. "It's a tough five years for us going forward," Fanning said.