"Innovation and adaptability are essential strengths the United States Air Force has sharpened during our last two decades of continuous combat operations. We have become increasingly intertwined with the successful operation of the Joint Force, which has evolved to a point where no other Service operates independently of the Air Force. Since September 11, 2001, operating as part of the Joint team, the Air Force has met every expectation to deliver decisive air, space, and cyber power to combat commanders; flexed to meet unforeseen contingencies such as the relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, and the tsunami in Japan; and quickly shifted to more complex counter-terror operations and contingencies such as the recent U.S. support to NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] operations over Libya. […] At the same time, however, the Air Force budget, excluding contingency funding, has been essentially flat since 2004. Since 2001, we have reduced our inventory by over 500 aircraft and have added new missions, while end strength has come down by thousands of Airmen, leaving us next year with the smallest force since our inception in 1947. Meanwhile, the average age of Air Force aircraft has risen dramatically: fighters stand at 22 years; bombers, 35 years; and tankers, 47 years. Now a changing and more complex security environment is emerging against a backdrop of fiscal crisis and diminishing resources, which has driven the need for new strategic guidance. As the Air Force approaches further reductions, our fleets are already smaller and older than at the end of the post‐Cold War downsizing."
United States. Dept. of the Air Force: http://www.af.mil/