WASHINGTON (AFNS) —
Senior Department of Defense leaders from the Reserve and Guard testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense regarding the Reserve Component fiscal 2024 budget request at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, June 1.
The panel of senior leaders included Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau; Lt. Gen. John P. Healy, chief of the Air Force Reserve; Lt. Gen. Jody J. Daniels, chief of the Army Reserve; Vice Adm. John B. Mustin, chief of the Navy Reserve; and Lt. Gen. David G. Bellon, commander of the Marine Corps Reserve. Each senior leader highlighted their near-term and longer-range budget and operational plans during their opening statements.
“To optimize our performance as part of the Total Force, the Air Force Reserve must transform for the future,” Healy said. “That transformation requires the Air Force Reserve be proportionally and concurrently modernized with the Regular Component. Maintaining equipment parity with the Regular Component ensures our ability to match pacing threats.”
In addition to transforming traditional weapons systems, Healy emphasized the need to take care of what he called “our most important weapon system: our Airmen.”
“We are focused on ensuring that Reserve Citizen Airmen receive the support they need,” he said. “This includes providing mental health resources, investments in resilience initiatives, offering social support through Yellow Ribbon reintegration programs, implementing recommendations from the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault and policy changes to remove barriers to service.”
Throughout the hearing, Healy emphasized the capability and capacity the Air Force Reserve provides to the DoD and its partners and allies.
“This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Air Force Reserve,” the general said. “During that time, we have provided the nation with an operational capability, a strategic depth and surge capacity across every core mission set of the United States Air Force. As a largely part-time force, we provide a ‘Ready Now’ accessible force that is both mission-effective and cost-efficient.”
During the hour-long hearing, lawmakers asked questions on topics including healthcare and childcare for Reservists and Guardsmen, the Space Guard, the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account, recruiting and retention, cyber security, modernization and proportional equipment fielding.
Healy said that 77% of the Air Force Reserve’s aircraft fleet is legacy—the aircraft are no longer in production.
“In the words of the secretary of the Air Force, ‘legacy’ does not concern the PRC [Peoples’ Republic of China] in a fight,” he said. “KC-135s, C-130Hs, pre-block F-16s and A-10 divestment are all issues and concerns for the Air Force Reserve in terms of proportionality. The National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force in 2014 called for and recommended proportional and concurrent fielding in weapons systems with the Guard and Reserve in association with the active component, and we’re constantly advocating adherence to that recommendation.”
The general concluded his testimony by saying, “We’re looking to contribute. And we want to be that surge capacity that we have provided for the last 75 years.”