Air Force leaders testify on infrastructure budget

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Stan Parker
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
The four pillars of the Air Force budget strategy--people, readiness, infrastructure, and modernization were the main topics May 12 when the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Installations testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Ms. Kathleen Ferguson, flanked by Brig. Gen. Joseph Lengyel, deputy director, Air National Guard, and Brig. Gen. Howard Thompson, deputy to the chief of staff, Air Force Reserve, spoke candidly about Air Force military construction, military housing and Base Realignment and Closure resources required for today and the future.

"As we continue to focus on modernizing our aging weapons systems, we recognize we cannot lose focus on Air Force infrastructure programs," Ms. Ferguson said. She went on to mention that the fiscal 2010 president's budget request of $4.9 billion for MILCON, military family housing, BRAC and facility maintenance is a reduction from the 2009 request of $5.2 billion.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, ranking committee member, expressed her concern about the reduction in the request of resources and how it would affect service members and their families.

"I hope we don't lose sight of the fact that our airmen must have facilities and family support infrastructure from which to work and live that is commensurate with their dedication," Senator Hutchison said.

Ferguson assured the committee that it actually reflects an increase in MILCON and the reductions are due to the anticipated completion of the privatization of military family housing and BRAC 2005 round implementation.

The resources are extremely important to the Air Force's war fighting capability, as MILCON, family housing and BRAC form the foundation of installations structures. "Our installations serve as key platforms for the delivery of global vigilance, reach, and power for our nation," added Ms. Ferguson.

The nature of efficiently projecting the nation's power is a baseline of the BRAC program. Through BRAC the Air Force will take the lead on six of the 12 joint basing installations and will allocate more than $478 million to Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve BRAC MILCON projects within the fiscal 2010 budget.

Under recent guidelines changing future years defense program policy, Senator Tim Johnson, questioned how Congress would provide additional funds for key Air Guard and Reserve priorities. His reservation stemmed from the Air Guard request dropping 60 percent and the Reserve request dropping 26 percent below the fiscal 2009 budget.

"We're pleased with the other components in the Air Force. I can tell you that the Air National Guard received its top three priorities in MILCON projects," said General Lengyel

"The Reserve components receive their percentages of the overall MILCON budget, which resulted in a more fair application of those percentages across our portfolio. We're equal partners with the Air Force," General Thompson added.

At conclusion of the hearing Air Force leaders and congressional members stressed the importance of operating as a single team and of supporting the four pillars of the budget strategy with particular emphasis on the more than 27,000 Airmen supporting joint combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and many other locations around the world.