The plan to have 386 operational squadrons would bring the Air Force close its Cold War size of 401 squadrons. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)
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The U.S. Air Force is predicting it will need to grow sharply over the next decade or so, boosting the number of operational squadrons by nearly a quarter to stay ahead of increasingly muscular militaries in China and Russia, officials said.Wilson estimated the Air Force would need about more 40,000 personnel as part of the plan to have a total of 386 operational squadrons, up 24 percent from the 312 today.The increase would bring the Air Force to about 717,000 personnel, including the Guard and Reserve.Wilson acknowledged that the Air Force's estimates would be further refined in the weeks and months ahead.Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein noted that was different from the typical question of what is the best Air Force that the United States can afford, given current budget priorities.
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