Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command, testified before the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee for Defense alongside other Reserve chiefs and Guard directors, March 16.
During the hearing, Jackson emphasized the importance of adapting to a rapidly changing security environment.
“We must maintain a reserve force capable of seamlessly supporting the joint fight while keeping our eye to the future,” said Jackson.
With more than 69,000 Reserve Airmen, the Air Force Reserve defends our nation every day said Jackson. “As we sit here today, over 5,000 Air Force reservists are supporting combatant commanders around the globe,” he said.
Jackson highlighted the Reserve’s role in ushering the first F-35s at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, the first KC-46 reserve unit bed down at Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., the recruitment of 80 Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets and a pilot cyber-accessions program.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) asked Jackson to explain how the Reserve brings in experienced civilian cyber professionals to work in a cyber unit that can be utilized as needed.
“The Reserve has currently 13 cyber organizations and we are planning to add four more. The hiring for cyber traditional reservists has been very successful,” said Jackson.
“However, we could use assistance from the committee to implement statutory changes that will allow us to grade the full-time air reserve technician positions at the same levels as their civilian counterparts. In addition, and with approval from our leadership, we will bring in cyber professionals already trained and give them constructive credit; so they do not have to take the first three years to build an Airman who can do that type of mission,” said Jackson.
Jackson described his vision for building the future force and developing the team; both areas rely on manpower and require a continued focus on the recruitment, retention and development of our Citizen Airmen.
“We increased the number of command opportunities across components to help develop true Total Force leaders,” said Jackson. “However, recruiting and retaining Airmen with the right training and requisite skill sets alone are not enough.”
Jackson reiterated the need to modernize and recapitalize weapon systems. “The Air Force Reserve must continue to modernize our legacy systems, such as the F-16, KC-135 and C-130, to remain operationally relevant, fully mission capable and able to support the joint fight,” he said.
“This committee’s support of a sustained National Guard and Reserve Equipment Appropriation is instrumental to our modernization efforts,” Jackson said.