WASHINGTON, D.C. --
Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, chief of the Air Force Reserve, and his counterparts from the Marines, Army, Navy and National Guard testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Defense during a hearing May 18.
The almost two-hour hearing was an opportunity for Scobee to highlight the Reserve’s contribution to the Total Force COVID-19 response, strategic priorities, modernization and manning.
“The Air Force Reserve is a cost-effective, accessible and ready force,” Scobee told the subcommittee. “When the nation needed rapid pandemic response, we had medical personnel on the ground in New York and New Jersey within 48 hours. We provide strategic depth for national defense while operating on only 3% of the total Department of the Air Force budget. We are committed to attracting top talent by fostering a culture of inclusion in which every Airman is valued and can thrive.”
Senators focused their attention during the hearing on concerns about modernization and legacy systems, the Space Force, and cyber missions across the Reserve components.
Scobee said the requested Air Force Reserve fiscal 2022 budget would ensure the Reserve meets the National Defense Strategy’s objectives with the multi-domain force needed while following the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s vision to Accelerate Change or Lose.
Addressing modernization, the general said the Air Force Reserve is focusing on upgrading its C-130s and bringing C-130Js to the special missions of fire-fighting and aerial spray.
Answering a question on the KC-46 and KC-135, he said, “It is vital that the Air Force is able to project power across the world. The KC-46 is the lynch pin. We are trying to balance the new equipment we bring in with modernizing the KC-135 as those two air frames take us into the future.”
Another high-interest item for the Senators during the hearing was combating suicide, sexual assault and racism within the Department of Defense.
“This tears at the fabric of who we are as the Department of Defense,” Scobee said when asked about sexual assault within the Air Force Reserve. “While we make strides in supporting our victims of this scourge, we also recognize that sexual assault is a persistent challenge we all have to work through together. One thing we are working with specifically in the Air Force Reserve is ensuring we have a climate that doesn’t promote this type of behavior and removing the opportunity every chance we get.”
Several of the chiefs, including Scobee, used the hearing as an opportunity to request that the committee consider making the implementation date for Tricare Reserve Select sooner than the current fiscal 2030 implementation date.
“We are extremely thankful for Tricare Reserve Select,” Scobee said. “Right now, it’s scheduled to take place in 2030. We’d like to move that sooner if possible. The ability for our Airmen not to have lapses in coverage is exactly what we’ve been talking about here as a group. It is to ensure we have all the medical benefits that should be allowed for our members to use, especially when it comes to mental illness or anything that will happen to them when they are activated.”
A rebroadcast of the hearing can be viewed here.