Senior Air Force leaders were on Capitol Hill March 22 to testify and answer questions about top-priority readiness needs and challenges facing the Air Force.
Chairman Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina), Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) and other members of Congress heard testimony during the House Armed Services Committee’s Readiness Subcommittee hearing.
Lt. Gen. Maryanne Miller, chief of Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command, testified on the importance of the total force and the impact of associations – partnerships involving the active duty, Reserve and Air National Guard -- on readiness.
“Associations are critical to our readiness and our ability to get the mission done every day,” Miller said. “We are the smallest Air Force that we’ve been, and it takes each one of the components to provide combat power and respond to emerging threats —integration is key.”
Miller said funding the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Appropriation is crucial to modernizing aircraft and equipment.
“The Air Force Reserve leverages NGREA to increase capability and ensure interoperability in the joint fight,” she said. “Congress’ efforts to assist with our budget shortfalls have helped, but permanent relief from the Budget Control Act caps is crucial to a steady and enduring full readiness recovery.”
Miller said the Air Force Reserve needs end-strength growth to bring in cyber, intelligence, space and remotely piloted aircraft operators.
“We are short in certain critical skills where the demand is high,” the general said. “We are providing incentives to bring and keep them in.”
The manning shortages are not due to recruiting challenges as much as retaining the critical skills that are needed to meet the emerging mission requirements.
Miller further explained the Air Force Reserve’s cyber community grows with the active component in mission defense teams and supporting the combatant commander in the joint environment.
The AFR is currently manned at 1,500 in the space career field.
“We are looking for areas to leverage our capabilities and are currently working with Air Force Space Command to assist in the missions where needed,” Miller said. “Growth is a priority that I can’t get out ahead of, but I can certainly be a wingman for that growth.”
The senior leaders called on Congress to provide support to improve manning, critical mission areas and infrastructure.
“As you know, our people are our greatest asset to ensuring global vigilance, global reach and global power,” Miller said. “Portions of our force are stressed, but our Airmen are resilient, engaged and honored to serve.”