It ain’t just the Air Force but it is about funding.
The pressure is no doubt on the Secretary to come up with something analagous to the peace dividend of the 1990s. I’m sure he’s thinking about his legacy, but while budgets start with the services, OSD is a gigantic pass-through.
If OSD didn’t ‘fix’ the services’ requests, where would OSD’s value be? But ‘fixing’ is almost always nibbling around the margins. There are exceptions, but they prove the rule.
Those who really own the budget are Congress and the administration.
A more plausible approach for the Secretary (in my mind, anyway)–which would still be tilting at windmills–would be to attempt to find and cut the fat out of the bureaucracy. Easy to say, difficult to do, but I can dream.
Want to know why we have $500 hammers? That’s what it costs to write a mil-spec for a hammer, staff it through the bureaucracy, have a contractor come up with a proposal, get bids from multiple contractors, transport and issue the hammer to someone who will use it (who probably already has at least one suitable substitute), get a hand-receipt for said item, and then to conduct the safety training required for the hammer. Exaggerating? Only slightly.
Now turn that ‘hammer’ into an SSBN(X) and what do you get? An $11 billion submarine.
The real imbalance is with overhead, that is, the bureaucracy–the staffs, the evaluators, safety, quality assurance, the power point.
The lesson is Steven Covey’s law of the farm…you reap what you sow.