As war costs rise, Air Force commands are ordered to reduce spending
Stars and Stripes
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The rising cost of the war on terrorism and in Iraq is forcing major Air Force commands, including U.S. bases in Europe, to cut costs and help avoid a “budget crisis.”
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper has ordered the commands to slash spending and delay programs considered a lower priority compared to the war.
The service projects to be $3 billion short in maintenance and operations and have a $733 million shortfall in military personnel funding by the end of the fiscal year, Jumper told commanders in a March 1 message.
Gen. Robert H. “Doc” Foglesong, the top Air Force commander in Europe, already has directed headquarters staff and each base in the region to reduce spending, headquarters spokesman Capt. Chris Watt said Tuesday.
“We knew this fiscal year’s budget was going to be tight,” Watt said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes. “Months ago, commanders were advised to look closely at their individual budgets to ensure they continue to meet mission readiness as well as provide for the safety and wellness of their troops and quality of life programs.”
The headquarters staff and the bases plan to reduce spending by cutting travel costs, the purchase of supplies and equipment and new civilian hires, Watt added.
Jumper issued the order to cut costs as the Bush administration’s $75 billion 2005 supplemental military funding bill awaits approval in Congress. He told commanders that the top two priorities would be to pay for the war on terrorism and efforts to rotate troops for those operations.
“Facilities, business operations, travel, administrative functions, non-deployment-related training and new contracts rank as lower priorities,” Jumper said in the memo. “These areas should be slowed significantly through the end of the fiscal year.”
In addition to bases in Europe, other commands already are making some cuts, according to an Air Force press release.
The Air Mobility Command isn’t spending as much on travel, supplies and equipment that “don’t affect current combat operations,” officials said. Facility projects have been limited to emergency work only.
The cuts will not affect flying operations, required maintenance and all “war-related activities.”
The Air Force Space Command has delayed some contracts, facility projects, travel, equipment purchases and supplies that are not directly related to the war.