Passing defense budget would ensure readiness

  • Published
  • By Col. Scott McLaughlin
  • 446th Airlift Wing commander

The stabilizing effects of passing a bipartisan budget will have a resoundingly positive impact on government operations, and recently our national guard and reserve leaders testified to Congress on how they are postured for defense.

The heads of the National Guard Bureau, the Air National Guard and the Army National Guard, as well as the chiefs of the reserve commands of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, went before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee to discuss the fiscal 2017 budget request.

Key elements of their testimony impact all military forces, including units here, on how leadership ensures their units are combat ready in an environment of ever decreasing funds and resources.

As a reserve component to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, our citizen Airmen work to balance a schedule that can be challenging between job demands, Air Force Reserve requirements and family time.

Having a budget will allow the 446th Airlift “Rainier” Wing to better support our Airmen by being able to fund training to ensure they’re combat ready.

Reserve and guard leadership highlighted how they’re planning for future, sustainable military forces.

During his testimony, Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command, emphasized the importance of adapting to a rapidly changing security environment.

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 Air Force Base, N.C., the recruitment of 80 Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets and a pilot cyber-accessions program.

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. As part of the development aspect, reservists are now commanding active-duty units, which help reservists develop into total force leaders.

Expanding from the reserve aspect of the testimonies, leadership in the guard and reserve components testified about effects of sequestration, readiness and modernization.

• Effects of sequestration: Returning to sequestered levels of funding, said Army Gen. Frank J. Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau, would shrink the National Guard to the smallest it has been since the Korean War at a time of complex security concerns, both at home and abroad.

• Readiness: While the current level of reserve training days is sufficient to provide ready forces to meet identified requirements, those resources are not sufficient to build a force capable of responding to unforeseen contingencies, said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley, chief of the Army Reserve.

“This committee’s support is crucial to ensuring that we remain ready to provide support to the total force as unique current global requirements, respond to national emergencies and mobilize for contingency operations when our nation needs us most,” he said.

• Modernization: “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,” Jackson said.

Citing aircraft recapitalization are her number one equipping priority, “Fiscal constraints demand that we focus on extending the service life of our hardware,” said Vice Adm. Robin R. Braun, chief of Navy Reserve. “However, each has a finite lifespan.”