The Air Force believes the extra funding afforded under last week’s two-year budget agreement will help it address its $33 billion facilities maintenance backlog. The fiscal 2019 budget proposal the service unveiled Monday revealed one key sign of progress — it funds 80 percent of the Air Force’s facility sustainment needs, Maj. Gen. John Pletcher, deputy assistant secretary for budget, said Monday.
“We’re doing a lot of sustainment funding on the FSRM [facilities sustainment, restoration and modernization] side,” Pletcher said. “That means that we’re essentially trying to take care of the worst facilities first,” he said. “But we did not get to a $33 billion bow wave overnight and it’s going take a time to buy that down.”
In response to a reporter’s question, he said the Air Force has no plans to mothball facilities as a way to stretch its budget. “We are using what we have and we’re basically maintaining those that we have available by spending money to the highest priority needs,” Pletcher said. His Navy counterpart gave a similar answer to the same question from the reporter at an earlier briefing.
The service’s $2.3 billion military construction request continues to focus on new weapon system bed-downs, with 50 percent of its milcon request allocated to new missions. “We’ve got 15 milcon projects just for the F-35 bed-down itself,” he said. “We also continue to prioritize strengthening the nuclear enterprise; modernizing our research, development and test infrastructure; and supporting combatant commanders’ highest construction priorities,” Pletcher said.
He acknowledged the service’s budget request means it will “continue to take risk in current mission milcon.”
U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen