Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (right) with Democrat Adam Smith at a joint press conference in 2011 (Photo SCVTV)
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (CA-25) and Ranking Member Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) announced their selections Wednesday for the congressionally mandated National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force.
Chairman McKeon selected General Raymond Johns, USAF (Ret.) and Ranking Member Adam Smith selected Erin Conaton to the commission.
“I have the utmost confidence in General Johns,” McKeon said. “His distinguished career in uniform brings both important operational expertise and management experience to the panel. As the Air Force and U.S. military faces more rounds of hefty budget cuts, getting our force structure right is more important than ever.”
“I am pleased to appoint Erin Conaton to serve on this important panel,” said Ranking Member Smith. “As the former Under Secretary of the Air Force and former staff director for the House Armed Services Committee, Erin is uniquely qualified to serve on this panel which will undertake a comprehensive study of the structure of the Air Force to what, if any, changes should be made moving forward.”
The panel, which is required by the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act, will undertake a comprehensive study of the structure of the Air Force to determine whether, and how, the structure be modified to best fulfill current and anticipated mission requirements for the Air force in a manner consistent with available resources.
Like the other military services, the Air Force is facing tough choices in its application of the declining budgetary resources provided to it. The Air Force is currently implementing a force structure plan that cuts thousands of personnel from the active and reserve component forces and dozens of air craft from the Air Force inventory. Because of the turmoil this plan crated when proposed, the Congress believed it was necessary to create a commission to more deliberately scrutinize the appropriate force structure mixes of the future Air Force. The authorizing legislation requires the commission to focus on maximizing and appropriately balancing affordability, efficiency, effectiveness, capability, and readiness.
General Raymond Johns, USAF (Ret.)
Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr. served as Commander, Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1977.
His aviation career includes C-141, KC-10, N/K/C-135, T-38 instructor pilot, as well as the chief test pilot and test program manager for the VC-25 Air Force One Replacement Program. He was chosen as a White House Fellow in 1991 where he was a senior staff member in the Office of National Service. The general has served at Headquarters U.S. European Command in security assistance and congressional affairs, and at Headquarters U.S. Pacific Command as Deputy Director of Strategic Plans and Policy. Within Headquarters U.S. Air Force, he served as Deputy Director and, later, Director of Air Force Programs. The general commanded a test squadron, operations group and airlift wing, and he was the Director of Mobility Forces for operations in Bosnia.
Prior to assuming his current position, General Johns served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Programs, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., where he developed, integrated, evaluated and analyzed the U.S. Air Force Future Years Defense Program that exceeded $822 billion, and the Air Force Long-Range Plan to support national security objectives and military strategy. The general was responsible to the Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff. General Johns is a command pilot and experimental test pilot with over 5,000 flying hours in over 80 different aircraft.
The Honorable Erin C. Conaton
Ms. Erin C. Conaton recently left government service after serving three years as a senior Senate-confirmed appointee, first as Under Secretary of the Air Force and most recently as Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.
As Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, she served as the senior policy advisor to the Secretary of Defense and Deputy Secretary of Defense on all matters concerning recruitment, career development, military health care, and pay and benefits for 1.4 million active duty military personnel, 1.3 million Guard and Reserve personnel, and over 782,000 DoD civilians. She was also responsible for overseeing the overall state of military readiness and for managing the Department of Defense’s relationship with the Department of Veterans Affairs
Ms. Conaton served as Under Secretary of the Air Force from March 2010 until early June 2012. As Under Secretary of the Air Force, Ms. Conaton was responsible for the daily affairs of the Department of the Air Force including the organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of its 680,000 members and their families. She also served as the Air Force Chief Management Officer, oversaw the Air Force’s annual budget of more than $119 billion, and served as acting Secretary of the Air Force in the Secretary’s absence.
Prior to becoming Under Secretary of the Air Force, Ms. Conaton served as Staff Director of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services, where she served as primary adviser on defense matters to the Chairman and 61 other Members; directed overall operations, and strategic planning; and led the substantive agenda of the committee, to include drafting and overseeing the National Defense Authorization Act. Ms. Conaton also previously served as Minority Staff Director and Professional Staff Member on the committee.
Over the course of her career, Ms. Conaton has served as the Research Staff Director for the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century also known as the Hart-Rudman Commission. The commission was charged by the Secretary of Defense to design a national security strategy for a changing global environment through 2025 and to recommend plans for implementing this strategy. She has held several fellowships to include those at the Central Intelligence Agency, where she worked within the Office of Asia-Pacific and Latin American Analysis; and at the National Security Council, with the Directorate of Nonproliferation and Export Control. She has also served as a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Ms. Conaton earned a Master of Arts degree in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Foreign Service, from Georgetown University, Washington D.C.