Large defense budget cuts are imperiling efforts to retain quality people in the military, according to several military leaders. Career paths are becoming more difficult as promotion options drop, and programs that focus on quality of life risk being cut back, which could hasten the exodus from a force already dealing with significant reductions.
Military and civilian pilots who have flown the F-35 Lightning II praise its performance and are optimistic about its superiority in the future battlespace. However, even with fixes that have been made, some issues need to be addressed and support crew will need to adopt new ways of maintaining the flight line, these pilots say.
The Tuesday luncheon speaker at West 2014, co-sponsored by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute and being held February 11-13 in San Diego, demonstrated his view of the potential for innovative technologies by donning the latest in visual display systems.
The U.S. Navy is counting on industry to provide the leading-edge information technologies that it will need to maintain superiority for the foreseeable future. Yet, if those technologies do not meet specific and broad-reaching criteria, they will not be serving the Navy, according to a Navy fleet commander.
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that has helped Afghanistan rise from the ashes of the Taliban also has produced concrete benefits for coalition members, according to a pair of retired U.S. military flag officers who were involved in the effort. Gen. Allen declared, “There was a massive development of political progress” as a result of this coalition among allies.
All of the efforts, money and lives expended by Western nations on Afghanistan will be wasted if these governments cut and run, say two retired military flag officers who were involved in the effort. “The worst thing we could do is walk away from this turbulent part of the world,” Adm. Stavridis declared, adding that the “vectors are in the right direction.”
Business as usual will weaken rather than strengthen the U.S. military in this time of budget cuts. The force must rely on technology development to ensure that it does not maintain current force sizes at the expense of enablers.
The U.S. military must make difficult decisions that will define the force for years to come amid a substantial risk to readiness and effectiveness, according to a Defense Department official. The nation faces new challenges throughout the world coupled with severe budget cuts at home, and the response to these issues must be taken carefully with a long-term strategic look.
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