The costs of fighting the Global War on Terrorism

Col. Kurt Lohide
435th Air Base Wing commander

***image1***We are asked of a lot in the Air Force and the military. Especially in times like these when our ops tempo is at full throttle and we have to run on all six cylinders.

From the world wars to Vietnam and the Cold War, if one thing rings true throughout it all, it is that fighting wars takes money. It rings true today in the Global War on Terrorism.

The cost of fighting the GWOT and the lack of supplemental funding has severely impacted budgets across the board – even more so than in previous years.

So how does that affect U.S. Air Forces in Europe? How does that affect you? For fiscal year 2005, the U.S. Air Force asked USAFE to absorb the GWOT requirement. That means we have to make some tough decisions to find $100 million within our budget to off-set the GWOT requirement.
We must smartly reduce costs that minimally impact our readiness and capability.

While that may mean we have to sacrifice some luxuries and creature comforts, we remain steadfast in our commitment to war readiness and war fighting capability. We have a chance to shed some dead weight and make ourselves leaner and fit to fight.

On-going contingency operations are costly, but we are committed to these operations and will carefully manage our budget to provide the required capability to combatant commanders. We must provide, as our mission states, “swift and sure expeditionary combat support while assuring superior services and the finest quality of life for the entire KMC and transiting forces.”

The missions at all USAFE installations remain important in the application of air and space power.
Our resources to apply this power, however, are limited. In order to remain combat-ready and prepared to execute assigned missions, we must give way to our priorities. And those priorities are directly mission essential components.

The cuts we see are intended to minimally impact unit readiness. However, services and quality of life functions may be affected to various degrees.

This does not, however, necessarily mean a drastic change in our quality of life services. The second half of our mission statement promises “the finest quality of life for the entire KMC and transiting forces.”

While we may not have all of the funding we wish to have for this fiscal year, we will continue to provide the finest services possible. Airmen and their families will need to be understanding – cuts will affect everyone and be a constant reminder that the new budget environment is not “business as usual.”