WASHINGTON — Pentagon officials have dismissed a 2018 directive from former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis ordering the military to ensure nearly 80% of its fighter jets were combat-capable, according to the nominee to be the next Air Force chief.
Air Force Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown wrote in testimony to senators ahead of his confirmation hearing Thursday that the Air Force was no longer holding itself to Mattis’ stringent policy meant to drastically improve unusually low mission capable rates within the military at the time. The Air Force never achieved Mattis’ benchmark combat readiness rate across its fighter jet force, but it did report improvements.
“The Air Force returned to allowing lead commands to determine the required [mission capable] rates to meet readiness objectives,” Brown wrote in his testimony. “We continue to balance near-term readiness recovery with investment long-term combat capability.”
Brown, who is in charge of Pacific Air Forces, was nominated by the White House in March to succeed retiring Gen. David Goldfein, the service’s chief since July 2016. If confirmed, Brown would be the first African American military service chief.
The decision to scrap Mattis’ goal of 80% flight capability within the Pentagon’s F-35, F-22, F-16 and F/A-18 jets came from his successor Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s office, Brown wrote. The Mattis policy, issued in September 2018 gave the services one year to reach 80% mission-capable rate. The policy did not include some fighter jets, including F-15 models and the A-10. (end of excerpt)
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