By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Oct. 22, 2003) -- Department of Defense leaders met with the House Armed Services Committee subcommittee on readiness Oct. 21 to discuss force reconstitution.
Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley told committee members that reconstitution is one of the Air Force's top concerns.
"Our No. 1 task is to continue the global war on terrorism while reconstituting this force," Moseley said. "You will hear loud and clear that America's armed forces have a plan for this important task."
Reconstitution means replenishing materials and munitions expended during operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, repairing any damaged aircraft, replacing any destroyed equipment, and ensuring that airmen are caught up on critical training requirements, Moseley said.
The Air Force, he said, has a four-part plan to accomplish force reconstitution. The plan includes getting the air and space expeditionary force battle rhythm back into normal rotation and restoring equipment to a combat-effective state. It also incorporates OEF and OIF lessons into existing platforms and equips forces currently engaged in stability operations with the tools necessary to accomplish their mission.
Moseley emphasized that training was key to getting the Air Force back into its regular operations tempo.
"To resume this tempo, we must focus on reconstituting capabilities, not just commodities," he said. "Beyond just equipment, the Air Force warfighting capabilities will depend on a continued emphasis on advanced joint composite force training and maintaining a sustained battle rhythm for the entire force."
While capabilities from nearly all of the 10 AEFs had been tapped to carry out operations for OEF and OIF, Moseley said he expected that most of the force would be back to regular operations tempo by early 2004.
"Resetting and reconstituting this force will be challenging," Moseley said. "However, by March we expect our fighter and bomber force will be ready to resume normal rotation, and we will have completed the repositioning of our war-reserve stock. By March, we also expect that most of our deployable equipment and consumables will be reconstituted."
The special assistant for air and space expeditionary forces, Maj. Gen. Timothy A. Peppe, said earlier this year that AEF rotations will be back on schedule by that time as well.
Not all of the force will be back to normal operations tempo by March, Moseley said. Because of sustained combat operations and high demand, expeditionary combat-support units, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, and security forces will not meet the deadline.
"It will take the continued hard work and innovation of our airmen to mitigate these delays and ready us as quickly as possible," Moseley told committee members.
Of interest to some committee members was if the Air Force planned on reconstituting the KC-135 Stratotanker fleet.
"As the air commander for both OEF and OIF, I can tell you that the tankers were the backbone for the joint and combined effort," Moseley said. "To reconstitute this fleet is going to require some hard work and newer airplanes."
The Air Force is working on a plan to lease as many as 100 new tankers to replace tankers currently in service -- some that date back to the 1950s. Under the lease option, the Air Force can field the new fleet of tankers more quickly than with a traditional procurement plan.
The plan to lease tankers is drawing some criticism from Capitol Hill, however, because of a perception that it is more costly to taxpayers.