by Tech. Sgt. Richard Williams
Air Force Public Affairs Agency
2/3/2012 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- In the face of a changing strategic environment and constrained budgets, the Air Force will maintain its agility, flexibility and readiness to engage a full range of contingencies and threats, according to Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley.
Donley spoke to approximately 160 Airmen, industry officials and Air Force Association members Feb. 2 here to provide an overview of the Air Force's way forward and the strategic rationale behind the service's budget choices and priorities.
"We have made some hard choices to closely align ourselves with the new (Defense of Defense) Strategic Guidance in our FY13 submission by trading size for quality," said Donley.
He explained that Air Force capabilities are clearly fundamental to the priorities outlined in DoD's new guidance, to include "deterring and defeating aggression, power projection--especially in the context of anti-access or area-denial environments--preventing the spread of WMD, the importance of space and cyber operations, (and) the continuing importance of strategic deterrence."
The secretary said the Air Force will be a smaller but superb force.
"In assessing how to adjust our programs and budgets going forward, we have taken care to protect the distinctive capabilities on which our joint, our interagency and coalition teammates depend," he said.
The secretary also emphasized the importance of ensuring readiness levels within the Air Force and said preventing a hollow force is a an important priority for the service's leaders.
"If we're going to be smaller, we have to make sure we are prepared," said Donley. "This is a dynamic and demanding security environment. This is part of the factoring in terms of the active-reserve component mix.
"It reinforces the need for these closer associations between the active and reserve components," he added.
He told the audience that one only has to think about operations in Libya last summer to be reminded about how quickly requirements for Air Force capabilities can materialize.
"We did not have six months to plan for that operation," said Donley. "The potential for the operation arose in weeks, and the execute order was measured in really not days but hours. So this requires a ready and agile force capable of responding quickly to these new contingencies as they arise."
In addition, modernization during a resource-constrained period is essential for the U.S. to maintain the advantages in contested air, space, and cyber domains, and the Air Force must be prepared for joint and coalition operations at any point on the spectrum of conflict, he said.
"(Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz) and I feel deeply that our leadership team...has inherited the finest Air Force in the world, one that was built over decades and passed on from generation to generation," Donley said. "It is our obligation to keep it that way going forward, so that our joint (and) our coalition partners know that they can count on the Air Force to deliver the capabilities they need."