The Senate convened this morning to resume consideration of H.R.3326, Defense appropriations.
The Senate Appropriation’s Committee recommendation for the bill is summarized by Clicking here. The bill is expected to come out of conference and pass before the beginning of the new Fiscal Year next week.
Certainly the SAC can boast about their support for the Reserve and Guard’s equipment needs to the tune of $1.5 billion marked for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Appropriation, an amount much higher than seen in recent years.
That number, broken down, stands to provide $135 million to the Army Reserve; $70 million each to the Air Force and Navy Reserve; $50 million to the Marine Corps Reserve; $1 billion to the Army National Guard and $175 million to the Air National Guard. These figures are over double last year’s numbers. The House version of the bill prior to conference did not increase these figures.
The Chief of the Air Force Reserve, Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner at the Heritage Foundation Sept. 24 said his focus for this money pot will be on precision engagement and defensive countermeasure equipment for the Air Force Reserve’s weapons systems.
The problem is that the money (for all of the services even at these higher levels) will barely reset the force, let alone allows them the flexibility to begin proactive procurement to modernize and improve their equipment like Gen Stenner would like to do.
Can you imagine C-130s flying into harm’s way without the appropriate defensive systems?
According to the watchdog group, Taxpayers for Common Sense, there are 778 earmarks totaling $2.65 billion in the bill. While some marks are likely legit defense needs for various states, certainly the Congress could have come up with a few extra dollars for known requirements such as NGREA instead of adding more pork to the bill (like a World War II museum in New Orleans for $25 million).
NGREA has always been a critical resource to ensure adequate funding for new equipment for the Reserve Components. The much-needed items not funded by the respective service budget were frequently purchased through this appropriation. In some cases, it was used to bring unit equipment readiness to a needed state of state for mobilization. Frequently, the funds were used to purchase commercial off-the-shelf items that units were unable to obtain through traditional sources.
The Reserve and Guard are faced with mounting challenges on how to replace worn out equipment, equipment lost due to combat operations, legacy equipment that is becoming irrelevant or obsolete, and, in general, replacing that which is gone or aging through normal wear and tear. But today’s equipment is being used at a higher pace than planned for given the war efforts.
In the past, “cascading” equipment from the Active Component to the Reserve Component had been a reliable source of serviceable equipment. However, the changes in roles and missions that have placed a preponderance of combat support and combat service support in the Reserve Components has not left much to cascade. Also, funding levels, rising costs, lack of replacement parts for older equipment, etc. has made it difficult for the Reserve Components to maintain their aging equipment, not to mention modernizing and recapitalizing to support a viable legacy force.
The Reserve Components would benefit greatly from a National Military Resource Strategy that includes a National Guard and Reserve Equipment Appropriation which could be used to proactively procure what is needed.
ROA urges Congress to continue to appropriate for a modern equipment account that will enable the Reserve Component to meet its mission and readiness requirements.
DAVID W. SMALL
Director, Communications and Air Force AffairsReserve Officers AssociationOne Constitution Ave Washington DC 20002
(202) 646-7719, firstname.lastname@example.org
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