Gen. Schwartz warns Congress on reversing Air Force cuts

The Air Force’s 2013 budget request included numerous cuts to aircraft and personnel, as it planned for the Pentagon’s $487 billion budget cut over the next decade.

Like the other military service chiefs, Schwartz has said he supports the Pentagon’s 2013 budget, and the four military service heads did not give Congress a list of unfunded priorities this year, a point of contention with Republicans.


But the House Armed Services Committee is planning to reverse several proposed cuts, including stopping the retirement of 18 Global Hawk Block 30 drones and reducing cuts to the Air Guard.

Schwartz said he and other Air Force officials have made their case to the committee, and will continue to do so as the Defense budget bills move through Congress this year.

The danger that he laid out is if the budget cuts are limiting the number of dollars available, there’s a concern that the funding won’t be there to maintain aircraft the Air Force has to keep.

“To just indicate, ‘Keep it and make it work,’ is not a satisfactory solution in my view,” Schwartz said. “We are not rolling over. We are going to make our best arguments. But if the outcome is to return force structure, it needs to come with the resources to assure that it is good.”

A spokesman for House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said Schwartz's concerns were overblown. "It is the Chairman's policy that we will not authorize force structure without the funding to support it," McKeon spokesman Claude Chafin said in an e-mail.

McKeon has proposed a budget that’s $3.7 billion higher than the Pentagon’s 2013 request, and about $8 billion above spending caps under the Budget Control Act.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to budget a to a lower number, meaning the two committees will have to reconcile the difference.