This Tuesday, POGO’s Nick Schwellenbach attended a personal briefing by Brig. Gen. Allison Hickey on the Air Force’s Future Total Force plan. FTF is a set of transformational initiatives to increasingly blend active-duty Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserves forces. The plan exists to more efficiently use the Air Force’s weapons systems and human resources. One way this will be done is to consolidate units, giving the Air Force greater flexibility. An additional part of the plan is to discard the practice of passing down active duty systems to the Guard and instead procure them the same brand-new equipment the active duty forces receive. The rationale behind this move is the reality that the Guard is often deployed as much as active duty.
FTF attains heightened importance, according to the Air Force, because of numerous factors: increasing cost of weapons which reduces the number of planes purchased; the assumption by the Air Force that defense spending will plateau; the changing requirements of the military (e.g. more UAVs versus fewer manned fighters); and the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process and the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).
While there has been criticism of FTF from some lawmakers and elements of the National Guard leading to a hearing last week before the House Armed Services Committee (most of the hearing was actually on BRAC), we are withholding judgment of the program until we know more.
The Air Force approached POGO first; we really haven’t looked at FTF until now. It is part of their new media strategy to initiate dialogue with bloggers. The Air Force's attempt to reach out beyond the mainstream media is a good idea in our opinion, but, of course, we’re a little biased.