RELEASE:

GENERAL ASSURES COCHRAN OF AIR FORCE COMMITMENT TO “FLYING JENNIES”

Cochran Asks Whether USAF Has Resources to Fully Man 815th Airlift Squadron

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today received assurances from the Air Force that it is committed to getting the 815th Airlift Squadron–until recently slated for deactivation–back to fully manned status.

Cochran, chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, sought information on the Keesler Air Force Base unit during a hearing Wednesday to review the budget requests for the Guard and Reserve components of the Department of Defense. Lt. Gen. James Jackson, Chief of the U.S. Air Force Reserve, was among the witnesses testifying before the subcommittee.

“We were very pleased with the decision to bring the 815th Airlift Squadron back to mission-ready status in Mississippi. At the same time, I want to make sure that the Air Force and Air Force Reserve have the resources required to reinstate the manpower and support required to bring the squadron back to its full strength,” Cochran said. “I am pleased that the Air Force intends to make that happen as soon as possible.”

Cochran asked Jackson whether Air Force resources were sufficient to restore the 815th or whether Congress should act to provide additional funding or authorization. Jackson indicated that “the ability to restore parts of that organization will require some manpower that we have already put into the calculus for this PB 16 [President’s Budget] submission.” Jackson also said the proposed Air Force Reserve operations and maintenance budget includes the required flying hours needed to begin reinstating the 815th to full strength.

“We are very proud of the 403rd Wing down in Mississippi at Keesler and the 815th is part of that outstanding wing… . I will go back and make sure that math is correct and get you and answer, sir,” Jackson told Cochran.

After being informed on April 13 that the 815th Airlift Squadron would remain at Keesler, Cochran turned his attention to restoring the squadron’s manpower, which had been depleted over the past few years as the Air Force acted to deactivate it and reassign its 10 C-130J “Flying Jennies” aircraft to a different state (http://1.usa.gov/1H3m7eK).

The Defense Appropriation Subcommittee is considering a FY2016 funding requests for the National Guard and Reserve, which is contained within the budgets of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. The request totals more than $46.7 billion for FY2016, an increase of $1.7 billion over FY2015. This includes $5.1 billion for the Air Force Reserve, as well as $10.9 billion for the Air National Guard, a $600 million increase.

4/29/15