Transcript: Testimony of Gen. Mark Welsh on the impacts of sequestration on the Air Force

Transcript of testimony of Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, on the impacts of sequestration. The Senate Armed Services Committee hearing was held on Feb. 12, 2013.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Inhofe, members of the committee. It is always an honor to appear before you.

In line with what you have already heard, sequestration threatens to carve crucial capability from America’s Air Force with alarming and immediate effects on people, readiness, and infrastructure and eventually on modernization.

Sequestration represents a potential $12.4 billion top line reduction for the Air Force in fiscal year 2013, affecting every account and program. If it occurs, it will significantly undermine your Air Force’s readiness and responsiveness today. It will significantly impact the Air Force civilian workforce in the coming months, and its impact on modernization will clearly affect the Air Force’s future capability.

I know your staffs have the specific examples from all the services, but just to highlight a few.

Sequestration will result in an involuntary 22-day furlough, as the Deputy Secretary mentioned, that will affect 180,000 civilian airmen. That deprives our Air Force of over 31.5 million man-hours of productivity and specialized expertise this year. It will result in a loss of over 200,000 flying hours.

While we will protect flying operations in Afghanistan and other contingency areas, nuclear deterrence, and initial flight training, roughly two-thirds of our active duty combat Air Force units will curtail home station training beginning in March and will drop below acceptable readiness levels by mid-May. Most will be completely non-mission capable by July.

Sequestration will cut 30 percent of our remaining weapon system sustainment funds, which means we will need to postpone approximately 150 aircraft and 85 engines from depot induction, creating a backlog that could take years for us to recover.

The Air Force’s global vigilance reach and power make it one of America’s premier asymmetric advantages. The strategic agility and responsiveness require a high state of readiness.

Sacrificing that readiness jeopardizes the many strategic advantages of air power. And from a parochial Air Force perspective, sequestration will have an immediate effect on our ability to respond to multiple concurrent operations around the globe, something we have been asked to do many times in the past, along with our sister services.

Longer term, sequestration cuts to Air Force modernization will impact every one of our investment programs. These program disruptions will, over time, cost more taxpayer dollars to rectify contract breaches and time delay and efficiencies, raise unit costs, and delay delivery of validated capabilities to warfighters in the field.

The Air Force is long overdue for reconstitution following 2 decades of war. Our inventory still includes aircraft that are as old as I am, and our force is as small as it has ever been since becoming a separate service. Now we find ourselves stuck in the unenviable trade space between readiness and modernization and we need your help to get out.

I urge Congress to do all that is necessary to avert the arbitrary cuts of sequestration and to pass an appropriations measure for the current fiscal year. And I look forward to your questions.

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One Comment on “Transcript: Testimony of Gen. Mark Welsh on the impacts of sequestration on the Air Force

  1. Pingback: Roundup: Impacts of sequestration on defense & non-defense programs | What The Folly?!

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