Air Force leaders, lawmakers discuss BRAC construction

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
Air Force leaders met with members of House and Senate subcommittees in March here to discuss military construction, base realignment and closure and joint service basing issues.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley and Maj. Gen. Del Eulberg, the Air Force civil engineer, met with members of the House Appropriation Committee Subcommittee on Military Construction and Military Affairs.

Also involved in discussions were Bill Anderson, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics, and sister service representatives who spoke with the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support.

Members of Congress had nothing but high praise for Air Force civil engineer units helping with reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and specifically cited RED HORSE and Prime BEEF engineers.

"Those folks are heroes for what they've done in building roads and schools for the local populace and installations for our folks to use," General Moseley said. "There was one unit that had been there six months and asked to stay another six months so they could finish some of their construction projects. And we're talking about doing work in 104-degree heat."

In addition, Iraqi and Afghan citizens make up more than 70 percent of engineers and 90 percent of the construction workforce on 576 projects totaling $4.6 billion, the general said.

"It's creating opportunities for them to help rebuild their country and have more of a hand in its future," General Moseley said.

As for the Air Force's future, all three witnesses highlighted the service's success in energy use and environmental stewardship.

"We have been recognized as the number one federal purchaser of renewable energy four years running, and we are overall number three in the nation," General Moseley said.

Further, Air Force officials have had great success in alternative fuels research -- having flown a C-17 Globemaster III and B-52 Stratofortress on a synthetic fuel blend. As the most demanding service when it comes to fuel consumption, it's the Air Force's responsibility to find more effective and efficient ways of doing business, Mr. Anderson said.

Mr. Anderson also said that if market development can make the production of synthetic fuels more viable in the commercial market, it would make it even easier for the Air Force in the future.

Senators and congressmen also had questions about the future of joint basing -- where multiple services share the same installation with one branch defined as the lead. Most of their mutual concerns pertained to the details on who would be responsible for what.

"We've held a lot of table top exercises on that very thing," General Moseley said. "Our issue is that our installations are warfighting platforms, not just some place we deploy from, which is different than the other services. We launch missions from our bases, to places around the world and then back. So while we fully support the idea of joint basing, we want to ensure we can still conduct our missions."

Joint basing is part of the 2005 BRAC findings, and the Air Force is committed to meeting all requirements by the due date of 2011. To make that happen, more than $2.1 billion of the Air Force fiscal 2009 budget is for military construction. This will ensure bases have the facilities in place for consolidation and mission efficiency, General Eulberg said.

General Moseley and Mr. Anderson also championed the successes of housing privatization, with most of this year devoted to renovating dormitory and housing areas in overseas locations.

"Our dorms right now are inadequate for our youngest Airmen, so we're going to get that situation taken care of," General Moseley said. "We want to absolutely make sure we have quality housing for all our Airmen around the world. Housing privatization has leveraged more than 350 million taxpayer dollars into $6 billion in private sector investment, speeding the delivery of adequate housing to our Airmen."

Both sets of witnesses answered questions about a contractor who defaulted on construction projects affecting four Air Force bases as well as Army and Navy installations. General Moseley and Mr. Anderson both assured lawmakers that the issue was being handled and that the projects would not only be completed, but oversight has been created so it doesn't happen again.

Above all, General Moseley reiterated that America's Airmen have been engaged in on-going operations for 17 years and thanked Congress for its support.

"As the Air Force continues to modernize and recapitalize," General Moseley said, "we will continue to wisely invest our precious military construction, BRAC and environmental funding to win today's fight, take care of our people and prepare for tomorrow's challenges."