The top leaders from the Air Force’s active and Reserve components were on Capitol Hill April 24 to provide statements and answer questions regarding their fiscal year 2014 budgets and force readiness.
Representative Rob Wittman, R-Va., the chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Readiness and Rep. Madeleine Z.
Bordallo, D-Guam, the subcommittee’s ranking member, led discussions and listened to testimony from active duty, Reserve and guard leaders.
“The Air Force Reserve is proud to be an always-ready federal force, able to respond within 72 hours anywhere the Nation needs us,” said Maj. Gen. Richard S. Haddad, deputy to the chief of Air Force Reserve at the Pentagon.
In written and verbal testimony, Haddad outlined various readiness issues and how the fiscal year 2014 President’s Budget request would fund Air Force Reserve requirements of approximately $5 billion. It provides for the operation and training of 34 wings, funds 102,212 flying hours, maintains 362 aircraft and provides for the readiness of 70,400 reservists.
“Our operational capability, strategic depth and surge capability are critical to national defense and national disaster responses,” Haddad said.
The Readiness Subcommittee is responsible for the single largest account within DOD’s budget. It oversees military readiness, training, logistics and maintenance issues and programs, military construction, installations and family housing issues and the Base Realignment and Closure process.
The Air Force Reserve budget request is about 5 percent of the total Air Force budget and includes $3.16 billion for operation and maintenance for air operations, service support and civilian pay; $1.7 billion for military personnel and $45.6 million for military construction.
“The Air Force Reserve remains in high demand,” Haddad said. “This is why it’s imperative our ‘Citizen Airmen’ are properly organized, trained and equipped for any contingency across the spectrum of conflict.”
Air Force reservists have served in every U.S. combat and humanitarian operation throughout the world. Currently, more than 2,000 Citizen Airmen are deployed around the world. Additionally, there are more than 4,000erving on active-duty status in support of combatant commander requirements.
The fisal 2014 DOD budget request meets the deficit reduction targets required by the Budget Control Act of 2011. This includes a portion of the more than $487 billion required in savings over 10 years. However, the fiscal 2014 budget does not include additional cuts that may be required by sequestration’s requirements to save about $600 billion more in the next nine years.
“Our ability to effectively respond with a capable and ready force is increasingly challenged by sequestration and fiscal uncertainties,” Haddad said.
Members of Congress asked the Air Force leaders how more budget cuts will change total force readiness.
“Cuts to both flying hours and weapon system sustainment make it more difficult to be a reliable force provider,” Haddad said. “It’s far easier and less costly to maintain steady combat readiness than bring back lost readiness.”
Also, the legislators discussed one of the biggest issues for the future of the Air Force – the development of the right ratio of regular and reserve component Airmen. The “National Commission on Air Force Structure” was established by the Fiscal Year 20FY13 National Defense Authorization Act and is tasked to make recommendations on the mix to the president by Feb. 1, 2014.
“One of the strengths of your Air Force Reserve is the majority of our Airmen serve part-time, bringing years of combat-tested experience at a cost-effective rate,” Haddad said. “We look forward to working with the commission for solutions that retain our highly-skilled warriors as ‘Airmen for life.’”