Time to Invest in Infrastructure

Air Force installations are “too big, too old, and too expensive to operate,” said Miranda Ballentine, USAF assistant secretary for installations, environment, and energy on March 3. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee’s readiness panel, Ballentine said the Air Force has “about 30 percent excess infrastructure capacity” and the average age of its facilities is about 40 years old, though “about a quarter are over 50 years old.” The excess infrastructure combined with aging facilities means the Air Force must either start investing now or figure out how to “make them cost less,” said Ballentine. That’s why the Air Force is once again supporting the Defense Department’s request for another round of BRAC, which Congress has repeatedly denied in recent years. Ballentine said the 2005 base realignment and closure cost the Air Force about $3.7 billion and “we’re already saving $1 billion a year … that’s a darn good return on investment.” In addition, the service’s $1.6 billion military construction budget proposal for Fiscal 2016 is about 65 percent higher than last year, she told House legislators. Without “persistent, consistent investment” in critical mission infrastructure, the “Air Force will break 10 years from now,” said Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, during AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando in February. (Ballentine prepared testimony)