WASHINGTON, D.C. --
Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, chief of the Air Force Reserve and Air Force Reserve Command commander, joined his counterparts from the Army, Navy, Marine and National Guard, April 10, in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee on Capitol Hill to testify on the fiscal year 2020 budget request for the National Guard and Reserve.
Chairman Richard Shelby (R- Alabama) began by stressing the importance of the Guard and Reserve components to be sufficiently manned, trained and equipped to maintain and defend our national security interest.
“Our nation’s Guard and Reserve components are a vital part of the nation’s total military force,” said Shelby. “The men and women that make up our Reserve components also serve our nation by remaining ready to put their lives on hold, whether they are called to mobilize, voluntarily deploy or transition to a full-time support. They represent the very best of us.”
Scobee provided a brief opening statement before the panelists answered questions from the subcommittee members.
“The Air Force Reserve improved our overall readiness during the past year," said Scobee. “We are better prepared at the unit level and our individual readiness has increased.”
Scobee thanked the committee for their continued support and diligent efforts to ensure predictable funding and said the on-time allocation of the Fiscal Year 2019 budget greatly bolstered Air Force Reserve readiness.
The general also asked the sub-committee to help improve the quality of life for Reserve Citizen Airmen by supporting legislation to authorize dual status Air Reserve Technicians to receive coverage under the Tricare Reserve Select health care plan.
“This initiative would improve health care across our Air Force Reserve for our Air Reserve Technicians and their families, and significantly increase the retention of our ARTs, our most challenging duty status.“
Chairman Shelby asked Scobee about the Air Force Reserve’s focus on improving personnel programs and meeting end strength goals, and how the budget request helps invigorate these measures.
“All of the changes we are making in our personnel systems are to address readiness,” said Scobee. “Personnel readiness starts with making sure we meet our end strength.”
Scobee specifically emphasized three areas: medical readiness, updating antiquated systems and converting 1,200 ART positions to Active Guard and Reserve over a three year period. The ART to AGR conversion will give Airmen a pay status that best suits the needs of Airmen and their families and bolsters readiness. The Reserve also had a backlog in medical readiness and because of the on-time appropriations, it is now down to zero.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) said the cyber-warrior space has always been a unique challenge.
“I’ve always thought there was a unique opportunity for the Guard and the Reserve to have the cyber-warrior who’s out there every day in another capacity seeing what’s happening,” said Blunt. “I think of a scenario of where people who aren’t in the full-time service bring in a different set of facts and understandings to their effort to be a cyber-warrior.”
Scobee said that the Reserve stood up their first cyber wing in San Antonio but the cyber mission is also spread out throughout the country.
“What we are able to do is that we gain significant talent from industry where they have great expertise…all the tech industry that you can imagine and then we bring that to bear,” said Scobee.
Scobee said that recruiting and retaining part-time Airmen are not a challenge.
“The things that you can do in the military are much different than you might be able to do in civil society. So it’s interesting to them which really helps with our retention,” said Scobee.
A rebroadcast of the hearing can be viewed here: