Aides on Capitol Hill, who see the Air Force proposal as a legitimate compromise, point out that the governors are not rejecting the substance of the proposal. Now the proposal becomes a matter of which remaining aircraft and personnel will be cut, they say.
Another question is how the Air Force will pay to restore force structure. A defense lobbyist says the service is likely to raid flight hours, training and operation and sustainment accounts. “You go hollow for the year,” he says.
In addition to concerns about the Air Force force structure reductions is another fight over a proposal in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s (SASC) fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill. The bill asks the Air Force to hold off on any reductions to force structure until they are reviewed by a commission. A Senate aide contends that the commission will help build support for final decisions, while the defense lobbyist says the military would prefer to settle the matter in-house.
SASC Chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) had predicted the defense policy bill would be on the Senate floor for debate just after the Thanksgiving recess. But the Senate wrapped up its business Nov. 15 without an agreement to do so.