Home » US military ‘out of time’ in push against adversaries’ modernization, Air Force secretary says

US military ‘out of time’ in push against adversaries’ modernization, Air Force secretary says

by John Jefferson
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Senior Air Force officials told U.S. lawmakers that they are “out of time” in modernizing their forces to meet the threats of China and other adversaries. 

Department of the Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and top-ranking military leaders from the Air Force and Space Force shared their chilling warning to a House committee on Wednesday.

“Time is my greatest concern — we are in a race for military technological superiority with a capable pacing challenge,” Kendall told the House Armed Services Committee. 

“Our cushion is gone — we are out of time,” he said.


On April 9, Kendall, alongside other top military brass, warned that “time cannot be recovered” after the current year’s budget was finalized in March 2024, instead of Oct. 1, 2023, when the fiscal year began.

“As you are aware, the six-month delay has had a real impact. That time cannot be recovered, but at least we can now move forward with our urgent modernization priorities,” Kendall said.

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall

Veering from his prepared remarks, Kendall used Iran’s recent attack on Israel as a timely example of the U.S. need for preparation against possible future attacks.

“What Iran encountered was a highly contested environment. And what we face with China is a highly contested environment,” Kendall told the committee of the April 13 attack, in which nearly every one of the weapons launched against Israel was intercepted by a coalition that included the U.S. 

“What I’m dedicated to — and what we’re all dedicated to here — is ensuring that the U.S. never has a result like Iran had in its attempt to attack Israel,” Kendall said. “That’s what’s driving a lot of what we’re doing and why it’s so important to move on from legacy systems that weren’t designed for that type of environment to ones that are designed for it and are capable of coping with that.” 

Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman

Kendall, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David W. Allvin, and Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman collectively shared the need for immediate modernization in the face of China’s growing military action.


In describing the plans and needs for space, Saltzman highlighted the importance of a robust Space Force.

“Against a near-peer adversary, space superiority is the linchpin.  Without it, we cannot deter conflict.  Without it, we cannot provide vital effects.  Without it, we cannot protect the joint force.  Until we have built the infrastructure to achieve space superiority, the Space Force is a work in progress,” he said. 

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin

The Department of the Air Force has requested a $217.5 billion budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2025, which is set to begin on Oct. 1.

“The simultaneous demands of strategic competition with an aggressive and increasingly capable (China) and persistent, acute threats from around the globe require the Air Force to maximize the readiness of today’s forces, while adapting our structures and processes to offer the best opportunity to prevail in an environment of enduring great power competition,” Allvin said, adding, “Time is not on our side.” 

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