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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The Air Force Association chairman said the service needs to become more efficient and modernized, but Americans should spend more on the military.

Robert Largent, chairman of the nonprofit aerospace advocacy organization, said the nation needs to put more money into the military, especially during wartime.

“We cannot continue to receive less dollars to do our mission,” Largent told Stars and Stripes by telephone from his home in Harrison, Ark.

The 24-year Air Force veteran said American taxpayers need to pay a larger percentage to defense.

He pointed to the association’s Statement of Policy, which states that defense spending makes up only about 4 percent of the $13 trillion gross domestic product. That is less than during World War II, the Vietnam War and the Cold War, according to the association’s policy. During World War II, defense spending made up about 35 percent of the GDP.

“It’s a very critical thing” that the nations reinvest in defense programs, he said.

Largent made a five-day trip last week to Europe to tour U.S. Air Force bases and talk to airmen about their concerns and find out what types of issues the service is facing. He said the topic that came up the most was the Air Force’s plan to cut 40,000 people from the service.

He said airmen from Aviano Air Base in Italy to Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany and across the ranks did not express any objections to the drawdown, but they are concerned about the speed of the process and the impact to the mission.

“Everyone understands the need to be smarter and more efficient,” he said.

A concern among Air Force chiefs and first sergeants is the heavy load of duties airmen are forced to do even though those jobs are not directly related to the job they entered the Air Force to perform.

Largent, who retired in 1992 as a colonel, said he plans to address a congressional caucus on the Air Force in early December.

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