The top leaders from the Air Force’s active and reserve components went to Capitol Hill May 15 to provide statements and answer questions about their plans for new construction projects in fiscal 2014.
Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., chairman, and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, led discussions and listened to testimony from regular Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard leaders.
“For fiscal year 14, the Air Force Reserve MILCON budget request is $45.6 million,” said Maj. Gen. Richard S. Haddad, the deputy to the chief of Air Force Reserve at the Pentagon.
“Our highest priority project is the construction of a joint regional deployment processing center at March Air Reserve Base in California,” the general said. “Also, our military construction request provides for construction of a squadron operations facility for the 513th Air Control Group at Tinker (Air Force Base)†in Oklahoma and an entry control complex at Homestead (Air Reserve Base) in Florida.”
The Senate Appropriations Committee is the largest committee in the U.S. Senate. Its role is defined by the U.S. Constitution, which requires “appropriations made by law” prior to the expenditure of any money from the federal treasury.
The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies subcommittee writes the legislation that allocates federal funds to the numerous government agencies, departments and organizations on an annual basis.
In written and verbal testimony, Haddad outlined how the new construction plan would help alleviate the Air Force Reserve’s $1.4 billion backlog of unfunded requirements. This backlog increased this year as the Air Force deliberately focused funding on other priorities.
The current fiscal 2013 budget included only one Air Force Reserve construction project:†A flight simulator facility at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, N.Y. Valued at $6.1 million, the project was part of the MILCON budget that gave the Air Force Reserve less than half of the organization’s historical average, increasing the construction backlog.
Each Air Force component is normally allotted military construction funding based on the percentage of the Air Force’s infrastructure it maintains. The active force provides for 88.2 percent, the Air National Guard 8.4 percent and the Air Force Reserve 3.4 percent.
The fiscal year 2014 budget proposal funds the Air Force Reserve at 3.5 percent.
“I wish to highlight that the Air Force Reserve appreciates the return to historical MILCON funding levels,” Haddad said. “Our ability to fly, fight, and win is dependent upon the quality of the facilities and installations in which we reside and operate.”
The fiscal 2014†President’s Budget Request funds the Air Force Reserve’s overall yearly requirements of approximately $5 billion. This is about 5 percent of the total Air Force budget and provides for the operation and training of 34 reserve wings, funds 102,212 flying hours, maintains 362 aircraft and provides for the readiness of 70,400 reservists.
“We are a tenant at over 50 installations and the host at nine more,” Haddad said. “We maximize taxpayer dollars by sharing facilities when possible. By minimizing our facility footprint, we further increase the cost effectiveness of our reserve force.”
In the last 30 years, Air Force reservists have served in every U.S. combat and humanitarian operation throughout the world including Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Japan, Mali and the Horn of Africa.
“Approximately 2,000 Citizen Airmen are currently deployed,” Haddad said. “And, 3,000 are on active-duty status in support of combatant commander requirements.”