Happy Birthday, Air Force! All you want is…40,000 new airmen? That’s right. The Air Force has proposed increasing to 386 operational squadrons by the year 2030, which means an estimated additional 40,000 personnel needed. The Air Force Association’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference held this week in Maryland brought together top leadership from the Air Force and defense industry to “discuss challenges facing the Air Force and aerospace community today and in the future.”
Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson spoke about the future growth of the service. She told those in attendance that “to face the world as it is, with a rapidly innovating adversary, the Air Force we need should have about 25 percent more operational squadrons in the 2025 to 2030 timeframe than the Air Force we have.”
Secretary Wilson acknowledged the hefty bill that would come with this increase in force. “We aren’t naïve about how long it will take us to build the support and budget required for the force we need,” she said at the conference. Fortunately for this proposal, President Trump has worked to increase military spending during his time in the Oval Office.
Military.com reported that “the service intends to grow by a total of more than 70 squadrons.” The new squadrons would be formed to meet a variety of needs, including bomber, fighter, space, tanker, special operations, search-and-rescue, command and control, intelligence/surveillance/reconnaissance, remotely piloted, and airlift missions.
According to the report, the majority of the new squadrons would be focused on command and control as well as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. These Air Force assets can provide increased awareness for military leadership around the world. They also play a crucial part in maintaining awareness of potential threats to the United States.
The Secretary of the Air Force “cited growing threats from Russia and China” as reasons for the increase. She specifically drew attention to the advances these countries have made in electronic warfare, hypersonics, and testing and said that the Air Force is responding by growing the force at a faster pace than in previous years.
“While the Air Force is driving forward, restoring the readiness and lethality of the force, buying things faster and smarter and strengthening our space forces—in the end, the most important thing we have is people,” she said. “And the ideas our airmen have to make things better.”
.@SecAFOfficial: I want to thank all of you for what you are doing to build a more lethal & ready #USAF, to field tomorrow's #USAF faster & smarter, & to support building the #USAF we need of 386 Operational Squadrons. #ASC18
— U.S. Air Force (@usairforce) September 17, 2018
Adding additional squadrons will come with a requirement for additional personnel to man them—an estimated 40,000 additional personnel, to be exact. This would mean the Air Force would number over 725,000 by 2030. The Air Force currently has just over 320,000 active-duty personnel, according to the Air Force’s Personnel Center.
The United States Air Force was founded on September 18, 1947 when the former Army Air Forces became its own branch of the military. As the Air Force celebrates 71 years, its mission is at the front edge of new military technology and growth.
The Air Force currently reports 312 operational squadrons.
The Air Force has a rich history of employing cutting-edge military tech. From the bombers of World War II to developing and training test pilots and astronauts, the Air Force is the “techie” of the military family. This force increase would be another important step to meeting the threats of today, which are often confronted in a high-tech, cyber-related battlespace. The Air Force is uniquely equipped to provide increased command and control, as well as other missions, a critical component in maintaining military superiority throughout the world.