To Fly, Fight and Win 
Reinvigorating Installation and Mission Support

The U.S. Air Force FY2016 budget proposal seeks to strike a delicate balance between ensuring a ready force for today and preparing a modern force for tomorrow, while recovering from the impacts of sequestration and adjusting to ongoing budget challenges. 

By By Maj. Gen. Timothy Green, P.E., USAF  

   


Airmen with the 577th Expeditionary Prime BEEF Squadron work on a concrete electrical vault at an undisclosed site in Southwest Asia in March 2015. The FY2016 budget request for the Air Force includes $1.59 billion for MILCON funding, which in part will be used to begin to restore the service’s capacity to meet combatant commander requirements around the world. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO BY TECH. SGT. MARIE BROWN

Airmen with the 577th Expeditionary Prime BEEF Squadron work on a concrete electrical vault at an undisclosed site in Southwest Asia in March 2015. The FY2016 budget request for the Air Force includes $1.59 billion for MILCON funding, which in part will be used to begin to restore the service’s capacity to meet combatant commander requirements around the world. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO BY TECH. SGT. MARIE BROWN


 

The U.S. Air Force is powered by the combined strength of active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserves integrating operations in air, space and cyberspace. This Total Force has produced the most flexible, responsive and powerful force in our nation’s history.

Airmen engineers are a critical compo­nent of Air Force combat capability, ensuring our installations remain effective power projection platforms. However, the Air Force has had to make very difficult choices in recent years about how best to support Joint Force missions around the globe—making mission support capabili­ties more important than ever. At the State of the Air Force address on Jan. 15, 2015, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said, “Demand for our services is way, way up. But we are meeting those demands today with the smallest Air Force in our history…What we have is a Total Force that is under significant strain. Fortunately, we have very dedicated and professional people who have been getting the job done despite all of these pressures.”

We, in our mission as Air Force Civil Engineers, remain dedicated to ensuring that all airmen have ready installations, resilient environmental infrastructure, and reliable energy.

  

INVESTMENT STRATEGY

The FY2016 installation investment strat­egy is designed to address many of the areas of installation operations and resiliency where the Air Force chose to take on risk to comply with the budget control legislation in FY2013 and the Bi-Partisan Budget Act in FY2014 and FY2015. It sets us on a path to providing the Air Force that America needs and deserves by ensuring that our readiness is postured for the current fight, making strategic investments to prepare for future threats, and taking care of our airmen. This installation investment strategy is in align­ment with the Air Force’s 30-year strategy, which vectors airmen to “build agility into our processes, capabilities, concepts and thinking” to better position the service for success in a rapidly-changing environment full of complex challenges.

With the FY2016 President’s Budget request, the Air Force strikes a balance between securing an agile and ready force for today while preparing a modern force for tomorrow. To achieve that balance in FY2015, the Air Force elected to accept risk in installation support, MILCON, and facilities sustainment.

The FY2016 strategy begins to address the impacts of that risk by increasing fund­ing for installations in all three of those areas. In addition, it begins to restore our capacity to meet the most urgent needs of combatant commanders (COCOM) around the world, enhances capability and rebuilds readiness, addresses facility sustainment shortfalls and the backlog of repairs, invests in our nuclear enterprise, preserves top recapitalization programs, and invests in our Guard and Reserve forces. Both Secretary James and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III, USAF, have testified to Congress that approval of this request is required for the Air Force to meet the National Defense Strategy. For us, this means that if we do not get relief from Budget Control Act caps, we will continue to unduly stress our infrastructure, making the recovery process even more difficult.

  

CONSTRUCTION OBJECTIVES

The Air Force’s FY2016 budget request contains $1.59 billion for MILCON fund­ing, an increase from the FY2015 request of $956 million. The total represents MILCON funding requirements for the Total Force, which includes Active, Guard and Reserve components. The year-over-year increase from FY2015 begins much-needed infra­structure recapitalization efforts.

We have allocated $112.1 million for program support and unspecified minor construction, with the remaining $1.48 billion of our program focusing on COCOM requirements, beddown of new weapon systems, support of the nuclear enterprise and providing equitable distri­bution of $203.7 million to the Reserve components. The increase also makes the dormitory investment needed to meet the Office of the Secretary of Defense goal of maintaining high facility condition ratings through 2017, and most importantly, to provide unaccompanied airmen with adequate living quarters.

Our MILCON strategy aligns with Defense Strategic Guidance and COCOM requests through the re-balance to the Asia-Pacific Theater and encompasses projects such as an $85.2 million Asia-Pacific Resiliency Program that hardens critical facilities that support operations in the Pacific Command.

The MILCON request also supports the Secretary of the Air Force’s nuclear, space and cyber priorities through key invest­ments in each area, such as the Weapon Storage Facility at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo. The Air Force will invest $262.8 million in replacing facilities that have reached the end of their useful life.

This is an important move to refocus on recapitalization projects that were deferred in recent years as we accepted infrastructure risk in order to fund near-term readiness.

 


Efforts to improve facility energy effi­ciency have helped reduce energy intensity and consumption by approximately 22 percent since 2003. In FY2014, 5.7 percent of all electricity used by Air Force installa­tions was produced from renewable energy sources.  


 

 

MAINTENANCE DEMANDS

The FY2016 Facilities, Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization strategy increases installation funding in order to address shortfalls and the backlog of requirements that have built up since the implementation of the Budget Control Act. To achieve this, the Air Force has requested $2 billion for sustainment and $850 million for restoration and modernization, which represents a 55 percent increase in restora­tion and modernization funding.

Although the FY2016 investment strategy seeks to achieve a more favorable funding balance between the capabilities required by the Joint Force and base and community support at our garrison installations, the Air Force continues to take risk. The National Research Council recommends investing between 2 percent and 4 percent of the total plant replacement value in maintenance and repair to reduce the risk of infrastruc­ture failure and accelerated deterioration. For FY2016, the Air Force anticipates a total maintenance and repair investment of 1.9 percent of plant replacement value as we begin the road to recovery from the austere budget environment of recent years.

 

RESOURCE STEWARDSHIP

Energy is the backbone for installa­tion operations. A concentrated focus on energy assures supply, provides resiliency, and reduces demands. The Air Force has made great strides in energy sustainability and security. In 2014, we completed our largest solar array, a 16.4-MW solar farm at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. The array was estimated to provide 35 percent of the base’s total power needs. It surpassed expecta­tions in its first year, supplying 44 percent of the base’s power needs and achieving over $500,000 a year in annual cost avoidance for the Air Force.

Efforts to improve facility energy effi­ciency have helped reduce energy intensity and consumption by approximately 22 percent since 2003. In FY2014, 5.7 percent of all electricity used by Air Force installa­tions was produced from renewable energy sources. Power purchase agreements also allow our installations to receive cleaner energy while increasing energy resiliency.

Additionally, we are expanding our efforts to put in place Energy Service Performance Contracts over the next two years through strategic partnerships with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Energy and Defense Logistics Agency.

Our environmental program meanwhile enables the Air Force to sustain natural infrastructure through compliance with environmental standards and requirements, reduction of clean-up costs and closure of contaminated sites. To properly care for the precious resources entrusted to us, the Air Force has requested $862 million to support our priorities of complying with regulations, reducing risk to airmen and continuously improving environmental management.

  

A new Energy Savings Performance Contract at Robins AFB, Ga., will assess and upgrade up to 40 buildings, including decentralizing a steam heating plant. The Air Force plans to increase its use of Energy Savings Performance Contracts, in part by collaborating with other federal agencies. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO BY SUE SAPP

A new Energy Savings Performance Contract at Robins AFB, Ga., will assess and upgrade up to 40 buildings, including decentralizing a steam heating plant. The Air Force plans to increase its use of Energy Savings Performance Contracts, in part by collaborating with other federal agencies. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO BY SUE SAPP


  

COST-SAVING INITIATIVES

Budgetary constraints are motivating all Armed Services to reevaluate the way installations and community partners do business, seeking alternatives to the status quo. As budgets decrease, the Air Force is exploring new ways to support its missions and maintain quality of life programs for airmen and their family members.

A very significant recent initiative is the standup of the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center-Provisional, led by Maj. Gen. Theresa Carter, USAF. This new organization will serve as the single interme­diate-level organization for providing instal­lation and mission support capabilities to installations, Major Commands and Direct Reporting Units. It will centralize speci­fied installation and expeditionary support capabilities and associated manpower and funds. This gives the Air Force the oppor­tunity to develop an enterprise portfolio view, ascertain enterprise-wide analytics, provide standard level of services across installations, eliminate duplicative manage­ment layers, and more fully leverage our resources in business decisions.

Another important initiative is the Community Partnership Program, currently in place at 47 installations, with plans to implement partnership agreements at 30 more in the near future. Community Partnerships allow the Air Force to take advantage of the skills and capacity of public and private organizations while reducing Air Force operating and service costs. For example, we have established agreements with local hospitals to obtain certification renewal for Air Force doctors.

We also will continue to pursue mutually beneficial Enhanced Use Leases in FY2016, for purposes ranging from energy initia­tives to commercial real estate develop­ment. These are a unique way to collaborate with industry, by leasing underutilized Air Force assets for development by private companies. Installations can receive lease payments in the form of cash or services, which they can then direct to installation improvements for airmen and their families. The Air Force will look for opportunities to privatize utilities wherever it is feasible and demonstrates a benefit. Since the beginning of this program in 1999, the Air Force has privatized 66 utilities systems, resulting in a cost avoidance of $511 million.

Finally, we expect our airmen, sister service engineers and business partners to all work to identify ways to become more effective and efficient in every area we touch. Together we must become better customers, more efficient and transparent program and project managers, and better at embracing alternatives to deliver more value within limited budgets.

 

READY AND PREPARED

As in years past, the Air Force made hard strategic choices during the formula­tion of this year’s budget request. We have attempted to strike the delicate balance between ensuring a ready force for today and preparing a modern force for tomor­row, while also recovering from the impacts of sequestration and adjusting to ongoing budget reductions.

Our FY2016 installation investment strategy makes the initial investment in installation and infrastructure resources necessary to meet the defense strategy while fulfilling COCOM requirements and supporting our leadership’s strategic initia­tives. But a return to sequestered funding levels will halt the recovery of Air Force readiness capabilities, cut our capacity and slow modernization efforts as our instal­lations around the world will experience further infrastructure and installation support degradation.

To conclude, we continue to scrutinize every dollar we spend. We remain commit­ted to identifying efficiencies throughout our enterprise, delivering a properly sized force structure, and right-sizing our instal­lations. This will enable us to ensure maxi­mum returns on the nation’s investment in her airmen—for it is the airmen who provide the superior airpower capabilities that protect this great nation.

   


 

Maj. Gen. Timothy Green, P.E., USAF, is Director of Civil Engineers, Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Installations & Mission Support. He can be reached through Capt. Logan Smith, USAF, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..