Lt. Gen. Maryanne Miller, chief of the Air Force Reserve and Air Force Reserve Command commander, was on Capitol Hill April 12, testifying on the status of the Air Force Reserve to the U.S. House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Defense. Gen. Miller was joined by her counterparts from the Navy, Army and Marine Corps.
Before opening remarks, Chairwoman Kay Granger (D-Texas) expressed her condolences for the two Air Force Reserve pararescuemen killed on March 15, when their HH-60G Pave Hawk Helicopter crashed in Iraq. Master Sgt. William Posch and Staff Sgt. Carl Enis, pararescuemen, were both assigned to the 308th Rescue Squadron, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.
“Guardsmen also perished in the crash,” Granger said. “Please express our deepest sympathies to the families.”
Miller started with a brief opening statement before all panelists answered questions from the subcommittee members.
“I’m honored to be here today to report on the state of America’s Air Force Reserve,” said Gen. Miller. “There is no distinction between our active, guard and reserve airmen. We are lethal, privileged to defend this great nation, honored to serve alongside our joint partners and allies, and ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”
Miller said the pilot and maintenance retention is a challenge currently facing the Air Force Reserve.
“Today, the flight line strength for our part-time Reserve Citizen Airmen remains strong; it’s nearly 100 percent,” said Miller. “However, the steady demand of airline pilots and the civilian industry aircraft maintainers continues to impact the retention for our full-time technician force.”
Miller said that while incentives such as bonuses and special salary rates for pilots and maintainers have positively impacted retention, it may not be a sufficient long-term solution.
“I’m looking at putting a different full-time status in many of our mission sets called Active Guard and Reserve. AGR status is different than the Air Reserve Technician status because it allows you return employment rights,” said Miller. “So an airline pilot can go fly with the airlines for a couple of years, come to us for a couple of years, and then return back to the airlines.”
Gen. Miller indicated that with this status change, full-time support pilot numbers could be brought up to the low to mid 80 percentile.
Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who has the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in his district, asked Miller to provide some analysis on the status and demands of the C-130J fleet.
“Right now the Air Force does not have J models built into the program to recapitalize the H’s,” said Miller. “We’ve put money into [avionics modernization program] one and two, and we’re progressing very well. AMP 1 is completely funded and AMP 2 is funded in the [Future Years Defense Program]. So the H’s will be fully capable of flying anywhere in the world to do their mission.”
Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Alabama) asked about the force strength of the Reserve, and if it was sufficient.
“The operational reserve that we have today is deeply in the fight all over the world. The reserve is really a strategic force that we’ve leveraged for the last 25 years as an operational force. The piece that I think I need that we’ve yet to complete, is a little bit of full-time manning on top of the strategic force we have,” said Miller.
“But after 25 years, our folks are getting stressed. I’m manned at 17-25 percent full time. I need a little bit more. Otherwise, we’re in a good position,” said Miller.
A rebroadcast of the hearing can be viewed HERE.