Air Force Chief: Fewer People, Lower Morale

NGAUS Washington Report
April 3, 2018

Fully manned and equipped Air Force bases overseas enjoy higher morale than those in the United States that suffer from manpower shortages, the Air Force chief of staff told reporters last week.

Gen. David L. Goldfein made his pitch for greater end-strength during a breakfast with journalists in Washington, D.C.

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“Morale and readiness are inextricably linked,” he said, according to Air Force Times. “Where readiness is highest, morale is highest. So you walk the line today at Bagram [Air Base in Afghanistan], you walk the line today at Kunsan [Air Base in South Korea], you walk the line where we have invested both the people, the parts, all the things that are required to continue engaging in an active campaign at Bagram or supporting the pressure campaign [against North Korea] at Kunsan, you’re going to find that morale is fairly high.”

However, to maintain that readiness and morale at faraway bases, those at home suffer, he said.

“When you walk those bases, you see lower levels of readiness, lower levels of manpower, high levels of operational tempo as they not only prepare for a continual rotation to the Middle East . . . but also ensure that we have continual bomber presence” to pressure North Korea, Goldfein continued. “And they’re doing that with less people, less parts on the shelves, less flying hours available. You’ll find that morale there is not high.”

The service has seen its budget cut over the past decade with no slowdown in missions, from battling violent extremism to expansions in cyber, space and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, he said.

During that time, the service lost nearly 20,000 airmen and the active component bottomed out at 313,000. A key to restoring morale, he said, is to increase end strength, which has already begun. The active component has climbed to more than 325,000 and the fiscal 2019 budget adds 4,000 to that total, plus 700 more Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members.

He said he hopes to grow at about 3,300 a year for a few years.

“That allows us to really get at some of the shortage we have in manpower to do the missions,” he said.