General Mark Welsh has said recent cutbacks to the U.S. Air Force have limited it's readiness to carry out a major offensive.
Welsh was quoted by the Journal of the U.S. Air Force on August 28.
Emphasizing cuts including the grounding of tactical combat squadrons earlier this year, Welsh said the Air Force would carry out any mission assigned to it but added, "We are not going to be as ready as we would like."
In any air-campaign scenario involving Syria, Welsh said, two capabilities likely needed would be F-16CJ Wild Weasels, which are specially configured for suppression of enemy air defenses, and F-22s. Squadrons of both those capabilities were also grounded earlier this year, "That's not a good place to be for us," he said.
President Barack Obama's indication to Congress that any action against Syria would not involve ground troops would clearly place the mission largely at the door of the Air Force.
Last month, Air Combat Command chief General G. Michael Hostage III was also quoted by the same journal questioning the ability of the U.S. Air Force to carry out large scale missions throughout the world.
“If Syria blows up or Iran blows up or North Korea blows up, I don’t have a bunch of excess forces I can immediately shift to that conﬂict. I’m going to have to pull them from other places,” he said.
Congress is currently hearing reports from the defense establishment about a potential Syria strike. Meanwhile aircraft carrier U.S.S Nimitz moved into the Red Sea Monday.