The U.S. Air Force needs to increase its squadron numbers to Cold War-levels by 2030 in order to counter threats from China and Russia, senior officials have proposed, according to The Washington Post.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson is set to announce that the military branch needs to add dozens of operational squads, bringing the number from 312 today to 386, close to the 401 squads that the Air Force had at the height of the Cold War.
“Over the last 17 years, we have had the luxury of being the dominant power focused on violent extremism,” Wilson said at a preview of the report on Friday, according to the Post. “We have to be clear-eyed about the world in which we live.”
“The Air Force is too small for what the nation is asking us to do,” she added.
Increasing the number of operational squads would require about 40,000 service members in addition to the current growth estimate, and a cost estimate is currently incomplete.
“We also know there will be a debate about what we can afford, and that’s fair,” Wilson said. “But I think we have to be clear about what is needed to protect the vital national interests of this country.”
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