Reserve chafes under CRs

  • Published
  • By Tyler Grimes
  • Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs
With the ongoing uncertainty of having to deal with the limitations and restrictions of a continuing resolution each fiscal year, the Air Force Reserve is finding it increasingly difficult to operate in the current budgetary environment.

“We are at a point where we can no longer effectively balance capability, capacity and readiness within constraints,” Air Force officials said in a statement. “We did not arrive at this point overnight. We are approaching our sixth month under a continuing resolution – one of the longest periods we’ve ever been under a continuing resolution – against a backdrop of budgetary turbulence that’s spanned six years. This prolonged attrition has critically challenged our ability to sustain warfighting capacity, improve readiness, modernize our force, and invest in research and development to maintain decisive advantages over near-peer competitors.”

The national security challenges the United States faces from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, compounded with ongoing operations in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, increase the need for the capability, flexibility and combat-ready experience that the Reserve provides.

But operating under a continuing resolution for this amount of time is hurting Reservists’ ability to meet future mission requirements, Lt. Gen. Maryanne Miller, Air Force Reserve Command commander, said in a statement to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense in April.

“In order to remain viable for today’s fight and postured for tomorrow’s, it is critical that we not only improve but sustain our readiness and ensure we integrate into key mission sets to support the joint fight,” Miller said. “However, constrained defense budgets and a lack of fiscal stability stress our readiness levels and threaten our ability to reach and sustain full-spectrum readiness. As a critical component of the one Air Force team, we will not be fully successful without proper and sustainable funding into the out years.”

While the fiscal limitations are impacting the Air Force as a whole, operating without a full budget is counterproductive to maintaining the Reserve force as well, Miller recently told the congressional House National Guard and Reserve Caucus.

“We have unique challenges in managing a part-time force without a stable budgeting process,” she said. “Predictability in equipping and training our Airmen is key to our success when it comes to utilizing our Reserve Citizen Airmen.”

In the absence of a full defense budget, Col. Christine Locke, AFRC deputy director of plans and programs, explains that the uncertainty of the continuing resolutions leads to lower morale and retention within units, which causes more work for Reserve Citizen Airmen who remain.

“This downward spiral of CR impact applies to both flying and support units and comes at a poor time as the Air Force Reserve already faces stiff competition from the civilian sector for quality manpower,” Locke said. “Finally, delays in National Guard and Reserve Equipment Appropriations can result in the inability to execute equipment modernization programs, which will have a future effect on readiness.”

Locke said to break the cycle of uncertainty and have a full fiscal year budget would greatly benefit the Reserve’s readiness and modernization efforts.

“For the Air Force Reserve to remain an integrated, operationally capable and combat-ready force, we must continue to invest in the modernization of our aging fleets of aircraft,” she said. “For this reason, NGREA is incredibly helpful, particularly in providing the Air Force Reserve the means to ensure our equipment is operationally relevant for the nation’s calling. Continued, predictable NGREA funding is vital to the Air Force Reserve sustaining and improving equipment readiness for tomorrow’s needs.”