Healy Testifies Before Defense Subcommittee

  • Published
  • By Bo Joyner
  • Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs

Lt. Gen. John P. Healy, the chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command, joined other senior Reserve and Guard leaders in      testifying before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Tuesday.

In addition to Healy, the panel of senior leaders included Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau; Lt. Gen. Jody J. Daniels, chief of the Army Reserve and command general of Army Reserve Command; Vice Admiral John Mustin, chief of the Navy Reserve; and Lt. Gen. Leonard F. Anderson IV, commander of the Marine Forces Reserve.

At the hearing, Healy was joined by Chief Master Sgt. Israel Nuñez, his senior enlisted advisor and AFRC’s command chief master sergeant.

Each senior leader highlighted his near-term and longer-range budget and operational plans during their opening statements.

“I am continually amazed at the accomplishments of our Reserve Airmen as they meet every challenge they are given on behalf of the nation,” Healy said. “The Air Force Reserve provides the nation with operational capability, strategic depth and surge capacity across every Air Force core mission set, both overseas and here at home. A largely part-time component, we provide a ready-now, accessible force that is both mission-effective and cost-efficient.”

Highlighting recent Reserve operations across the globe, the general spoke about the importance of recapitalization and modernization for the command. “To optimize our performance as the Total Force, the Air Force Reserve must transform for the future,” he said. “This transformation requires the Air Force Reserve be proportionally modernized and concurrently fielded with regular component equipment. Maintaining equipment parity with the regular component ensures our ability to match a pacing threat. Legacy aircraft divestment without recapitalization and delayed modernization adds substantial risk to sustaining combat credible air superiority and surge capacity in the future.”

Saying that the Reserve’s most important weapon system is its Airmen, Healy said the Reserve is focused on ensuring Reservists and their families receive the support they need.

“Two of our most significant lines of effort focus on providing accessible, affordable childcare for our members as well as making health care more accessible for family members with special needs through the Exceptional Family Member program,” he said.

The general wrapped up his opening comments by saying that the Air Force Reserve has provided combat-proven readiness over the past seven decades, and “I’m certain that the Air Force Reserve will be prepared to defend this great nation now and into the future,” he said.

During the question-and-answer portion of the hearing, Healy highlighted a pair of initiatives that are helping the Reserve attract and keep cyber professionals in key positions.

“We are actually retaining these cyber professionals through innovative things like a direct commissioning source where we are able to direct commission enlisted members and folks off the street who have the necessary requirements for those positions. In addition to that, we have constructive credit which we’re allowing people to take from the civilian community and bring it forth and allow them to continue to work in a military capacity. This is what’s allowing us to keep this elite talent in the civilian sector and allow them to be Citizen Airmen at the same time.”

When asked what one quality-of-life issue he thinks has the greatest effect on retention or recruiting for the Air Force Reserve, Healy identified access to Tricare Reserve Select for Air Reserve Technicians and Title 5 civilians.

“That’s in excess of 10,000 of the folks working for us,” he said. “They don’t have access to Tricare Reserve Select until 2030 – that’s the time frame now. In some cases, this is doubling or tripling the cost of premiums for them. What it lacks is the continuity of care. If we have a Reserve technician who is a civilian during the week under the Federal Employee Health Benefits System and then they are on a set of orders for an extended period of time, they are having to transition back and forth between multiple care providers which provides a challenge. This is the force that trains our part-timers. It’s critical to readiness and it’s certainly a retention issue and a recruiting issue for that full-time force.”

The entire hearing can be seen at https://www.dvidshub.net/webcast/34330.