The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 11, 2013

Many Air Force fighters, bombers will have to stand down due to sequestration

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Federal budget cuts may be affecting the readiness of Air Force combat units.

 Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of Air Combat Command at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia, said Tuesday the Air Force will ground one-third of its active-duty force of fighters and bombers because of the automatic spending cuts — the so-called sequestration — that came about because of the lack of a budget agreement in Washington.

Only units preparing to deploy to major operations, such as the war in Afghanistan, will remain mission-ready. Other units would stand down on a rotating basis.

According to Air Force officials, aircrews “lose currency” to fly combat commissions within 90 to 120 days of not flying. It generally takes 60 to 90 days to train the crews to mission-ready status.

The stand down will remain in effect for the remainder of fiscal year 2013.

This is not good news.

Even though operations have wound down in Iraq, and are winding down in Afghanistan, the world still is a dangerous place. We only have to look to the continual war talk coming from North Korea to see that.

Having our Air Force hampered is not what we need now.

On another front, the Pentagon — in the budget President Obama submitted this week — is requesting a round of domestic base closings in 2015.

City officials have done many things in recent years to improve Vance Air Force Base. We’re confident the Air Force gets the best bang for its buck with respect to Vance.

However, any talk of base closings is sure to cause jitters, which won’t go away until something is decided in Washington, D.C.

Until then, we will just have to continue doing what we do with respect to Vance.

However, when it comes to Air Force readiness to do its job, the current situation is unacceptable.

Our elected leaders need to get this situation resolved now.