Sequestration

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BACKGROUND PAPER

ON

THE EFFECTS OF SEQUESTRATION ON TOTAL FORCE READINESS

1. On August 1st, 2011, the United States’ National Debt was moments away from breaching the 14.3 billion dollar debt ceiling imposed by Congress on February 12th, 2010. One day later, on August 2nd, 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law the Budget Control Act of 2011. This national-level policy mandated reductions to the United States (US) budget totaling 1.2 trillion dollars over 10 years. Of the 1.2 trillion dollars in reductions, approximately 500 billion dollars is applied to the Department of Defense (DoD). Furthermore, 85 billion dollars in DoD cuts are to take effect in fiscal year (FY) 2013 alone (Black, 2013). This background paper analyzes the effects of sequestration on the readiness levels of the United States Air Force (USAF). It will describe how Company Grade Officers (CGOs), the future leaders of the USAF, are losing developmental opportunities due to budget cuts. This will lead to a decreased state of total force readiness, ultimately degrading national security. Two Courses Of Action (COA) are proposed to offer solutions to maintain the readiness of the USAF in the wake of sequestration: 1) adopting a foreign policy of moderate-isolationism and 2) postponing costly DoD ventures in addition to funneling funding to the DoD from other government programs such as Social Security and Income Security. 2. Due to the reality of sequestration, the Air Force expects to absorb over 12.4 billion dollars in funding reductions on top of an already substantial 1.8 billion dollar shortfall in funding for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) in FY13 (Black, 2013). Compared to recent history, the budget constraints placed on the USAF are unprecedented. In his letter to Airmen on March 1st, 2013, Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh stated, “our Air Force will experience about a nine percent budget cut across all programs starting now, with no ability to adjust where those cuts come from” (Welsh, 2013). General Welsh went on to layout the Air Force’s plan of immediately reducing training hours for flying squadrons by 18% in order to save existing funding and protect the readiness of units scheduled to deploy (Welsh, 2013). 3. The national-level policy of Sequestration will affect not only the DoD, but also the Air Force as a whole. Sequestration will notably have the most profound impact on the Air Force’s CGOs. Air Force CGOs lead Airmen to accomplish strategic and national objectives at the tactical level. AF Doctrine Document 1-1, Leadership and Force Development, states, “Tactical expertise in the Air Force encompasses chiefly in the unit and sub unit levels where individuals perform specific tasks that, in aggregate, contribute to the execution of operations at the operational level” (Schwartz, 2011). AFDD 1-1 goes on to state that Airmen at the tactical level are focused on honing followership abilities, motivating subordinates, and influencing peers to accomplish the mission while developing a warrior ethos. Training and education at the tactical level includes training in a primary skill and initial education in leadership (Schwartz, 2011). CGOs are the ones most affected by sequestration because they are the technical experts who are leading the Air Force on the front lines. CGOs are the pilots, fire team commanders, air battle managers, squad leaders, intelligence officers, doctors, and system experts who realize US strategic objectives by accomplishing missions at the lowest commissioned level possible. In order to accomplish Air Force objectives, CGOs require training in their primary skillset and continuous education in leadership (Schwartz, 2011). Without the proper investment, Air Force CGOs will not garner the education, training, and experience needed to develop into total force leaders. 4. In order to combat the threat of insufficient force development due to budget cuts among the United States’ most...
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