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Total force shares capabilities

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Aug. 18, 2005) -- The assistant secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs told a panel of Base Realignment and Closure commissioners the Air Force would change its size and modify its missions.

The Air Force will become smaller in terms of the number of aircraft the service keeps. If the Air Force's BRAC recommendations are approved, the Air Force's fighter force will shrink by about 20 percent overall, Michael L. Dominguez said.

Michael L. Dominguez testifies before the Base Realignment and Closure commission Aug. 11. Mr. Dominguez told BRAC commissioners the Air Force fleet will become smaller if the service's BRAC recommendations are approved. He also said new aircraft like the F/A-22 Raptor will compensate for the smaller fleet because the Raptor is far more capable than the aircraft it is designed to replace. Mr. Dominguez is the assistant secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

"Legacy aircraft designed in the 1970s and largely built in the 1980s are not the aircraft that will guarantee global dominance for the Air Force into the middle part of the 21st century," Mr. Dominguez said. "We have to right-size our flying squadrons for efficiency and effectiveness. We looked through the inventory of aircraft, regardless of the component to whom they are assigned, and divested the oldest, least capable aircraft."

Mr. Dominguez also told commissioners the Air National Guard is part of that process.

"At points throughout the (BRAC) process, we have shared with Guard and Reserve (leaders) the factors bringing change to the Air Force, the nature of that change, the imperatives we would apply in adapting to that change, our strategy for addressing those imperatives and the likely results," Mr. Dominguez said

While some Guard units will lose flying missions, Mr. Dominguez said some of those installations will continue to have a mission to provide expeditionary combat support as part of their federal mission, and at the same time be able to continue to perform a homeland security mission at home while providing support to their governors.

"The concept of enclaves as opposed to shutting down facilities and closing down National Guard units came out of the National Guard participants in our BRAC executive committee staff," Mr. Dominguez said. "They said we need to make sure governors have assets to use in their homeland defense mission in their disaster recovery, in their firefighting, in their riot control, in their need to protect critical infrastructure and also have command and control capabilities."

It is around those enclaves, Mr. Dominguez said, that the Air Force will build emerging missions. Those missions include space, expeditionary combat support to austere locations, and command, control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.