June 22, 2004 Tuesday
HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE MILITARY CONSTRUCTION SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: AIR FORCE CONSTRUCTION
CHAIRED BY: REPRESENTATIVE JOE KNOLLENBERG (R-MI)
WITNESSES: GENERAL JOHN JUMPER, CHIEF OF STAFF, UNITED STATES AIR FORCE; NELSON GIBBS, ASSISTANT AIR FORCE SECRETARY FOR INSTALLATIONS, ENVIRONMENT & LOGISTICS
LOCATION: B-300 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.
REP. JACK KINGSTON (R-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
General Jumper, when do you expect to make an announcement about realignment in the forces overseas, bringing some of these people home?
GEN. JUMPER: Sir, that's a DOD project. And we expect that to be-the work to be done by the end of this month. And the secretary of Defense will decide when the announcements are going to be made, but we expect the work to be done here very soon.
REP. KINGSTON: You know, we've had a good debate in the House and actually amended the DOD bill to postpone BRAC, and one of the reasons was the uncertainty about who's going to be where overseas, and then, of course, Iraq. What is your feeling? How do you answer those charges about the postponement?
GEN. JUMPER: Sir, we have so little left overseas right now that it's easily taken care of in whatever BRAC plan would evolve from the current process.
REP. KINGSTON: Is there any reason to postpone BRAC?
GEN. JUMPER: Sir, I don't think so. No, sir, I don't. I think we ought to move on with BRAC. Again, I think it's the efficiency in money and people; we need to move on with it.
REP. KINGSTON: Is that how you feel, Mr. Gibbs? I know we've had the opportunity to talk about it, but not really on the record.
MR. GIBBS: Absolutely. A delay in the BRAC causes us to use people for activities that are unnecessary for certainly the defense of the country, and causes us and the country and you to spend money. I was just commenting about the C-4 categories here. You know, it does require us to put money into maintaining facilities that, if we have the opportunity to more effectively rationalize the facilities we're using, that we won't have to spend. So as the chief says, it's both the money but equally as important it's the number of people that we can put in the military doing activities that are more necessary for the defense of the country.
REP. KINGSTON: General Jumper, one of the things we did recently in the southeast Georgia area that I represent, we had a meeting at Fort Stewart and invited Moody and Robbins Air Force Base and the Marines Logistic Center and actually had 11 bases represented, with the idea of getting the generals and the admirals to talk to each other and share facilities, just, you know, get the most bang for the taxpayer buck. What do you think of that type thing? Does that --
GEN. JUMPER: Well, I'm disappointed they weren't doing some of that on their own, but I appreciate the fact that you got them together. We would expect that they would be doing some of that on their own in trying to make sure that efficiencies in both contracting and those sorts of things were part of their way of life around there. Other areas of the country, I know they do this.
REP. KINGSTON: I think they were probably doing it somewhat on their own, but not 11 at one time, really.
GEN. JUMPER: Yes, sir.
REP. KINGSTON: And what we want to do as a community is build on that and maybe, you know, have a little more networking with --
GEN. JUMPER: Efficiencies, especially when we can bring the communities in there, we can get efficiencies in omnibus contracts that do the same thing for all sorts of-three bases, those sorts of things are all good things to do. What we tend to resist is centralized management of bases. We want our commanders on our Air Force bases responsible for the welfare, for the housing, for the medical care of their people; we want those commanders that work for the base commanders to be responsible to that commander for the functions that go on at that base. And so --
REP. : That's maintenance, too?
GEN. JUMPER: Well, the maintenance is privatized, but still the contract is written and the responsibility of writing that contract properly is the responsibility of that commander. So even though civilians are carrying it out and it's privatized, the quality of that contract is the responsibility of the commander and we hold him accountable.
MR. GIBBS: Because of the differing missions the bases have, the Air Force uses some different models as to how its maintenance is done. Basically in AETC, Air Education and Training Command, all of the maintenance is contracted out, but in the active-in ACC bases, the Air Combat Command, and in certain other bases, a portion of it may be contracted out. But we have --
REP. : That's aircraft maintenance?
MR. GIBBS: Well, both aircraft maintenance and -- (inaudible). But we have a mission to be able to be expeditionary in terms, and we have blue-suited people who have a mission to go out and create an airbase wherever it needs to be created. And they need to be able to have the skill, the training and the continuing work to pave roads, to put in sewers, to put up buildings, et cetera. And that portion that we are doing on those bases with those civil engineering-type troops, that's part of their training. And at the same time, we're getting base maintenance.
REP. KNOLLENBERG: Mr. Kingston, you've got time remaining. That won't be charged to you. (Laughter.)
REP. KINGSTON: That's fine.
Putting a large, say, an Army aviation unit, large maneuvering unit on an Air Force base, is that something that you think is the wave of the future?
GEN. JUMPER: Well you-there is certainly more room for joint criteria on bases, and that's something that BRAC will do. We do have to be careful when you start mixing large numbers of vertical-lift helicopters or vertical-lift aircraft with fast-moving aircraft. In the Air Force, we've had some very severe accidents with slow-moving C-130s on the same bases as fast-moving F-16s, and we stopped doing that. These are lessons we've learned over time that are normally safety-related, where we just don't do that.
There are ways that you can put things together, as we've done at Fort Dixon and McGuire Air Force Base because those missions are compatible. Fort Dix has large pieces of equipment and maneuvering units that depart from there, and they get on the transports that are right across the runway there at McGuire Air Force Base. Same thing at Pope Air Force Base with C-130s and the 18th Airborne at Pope and Fort Bragg.
So where you have this compatibility of mission, yes. Just to put them together when the missions are not compatible would lead to, I think, severe problems and severe safety issues that we really have to pay close attention to. This is what the BRAC process will look at, and it will be based on military necessity and compatibility.
REP. KNOLLENBERG: Thank you, Mr. Kingston.
REP. KINGSTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.