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US Air Force secretary implores Congress to provide base reconstruction supplemental funding

US Air Force (USAF) Secretary Heather Wilson has called for Congress to provide the USD5 billion supplemental request the USAF made in late March so it can rebuild a pair of key bases damaged by extreme weather.

Wilson was speaking to an audience at the Meridian International Center on 13 May about the hurricane that struck the Florida panhandle region, home to Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB).

“That disaster happened in October,” said Wilson. “[Tyndall] has been absolutely devastated and we still have not received the first insurance payment to help that base recover.”

Flooding in the Midwestern US during March damaged many buildings on the southern half of Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. (US Air Force)

Flooding in the Midwestern US during March damaged many buildings on the southern half of Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. (US Air Force)

The USAF on 23 March requested roughly USD5 billion in supplemental funding for rebuilding efforts at Tyndall AFB, Florida, and Offutt AFB, Nebraska. Offutt AFB, a key base that plays home to US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), was damaged by extreme flooding. Tyndall AFB is a main aircraft hub because of its 209,215 km 2 of airspace over the Gulf of Mexico. The USAF also wants to put three Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) squadrons, or 63–72 aircraft, at Tyndall in the future.

Wilson said getting the supplemental funding is her top priority as the service has been taking money from other funds to pay for restoration at Tyndall and Offutt AFBs. The House on Friday passed a supplemental appropriations bill that would provide the air force with USD1.3 billion funds in fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019) for reconstruction efforts – USD400 million in operations and maintenance (O&M) and USD700 million in military construction.

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