BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Over the past two years, Individual Mobilization Augmentee Col. Carl Magnusson has travelled the globe in support of a variety of U.S. operations.
The U.S. Pacific Command Air Force Reservist has seen Japan, the Philippines, and Mongolia as a joint exercise control group director, and most recently, Kuwait and Turkey, where he supported Operation Inherent Resolve.
As an IMA, Magnusson is assigned to US PACOM’s Operations Directorate. As a reservist, it’s his job to augment PACOM exercises. After talking things over with his family, he decided that 2015 was his turn to step up and let PACOM utilize his expertise full-time. He saw the 365-day voluntary mobilization as an opportunity to put all his training to use but he had no idea it would turn out the way it did. Two years and three extensions later, he says he has realized Reservists need to be flexible and ready to serve when and where they are called.
Most of his two years was spent in the Pacific region, leading exercises like a global peacekeeper training in Mongolia. However, the last five months of his tour found him working for the Army, supporting Combined Joint Task Force-OIR in the fight against ISIL.
Originally slated to serve out his mobilization in Kuwait, following the attempted coup in Turkey, the U.S. Army’s III Corp quickly redeployed him there. He arrived in Ankara two weeks after the attempted overthrow and served as the chief of the Operations Integration Cell within the Office of Defense Cooperation. It was his responsibility to provide the CJTF-OIR commanders on the ground in Kuwait visibility and perspective into the situation in Turkey, as well as represent their interests to the Turkish general staff.
“It was a shirt-sleeves environment and we provided an American face to the Turkish military to make sure the CJTF was informed about developments in Turkey,” he said.
He said the office was somewhat unpredictable, so building personal relationships with counterparts within the Turkish military was an important part of supporting the warfighters. He worked daily with a Turkish Air Force colonel who was his peer in the operations integration cell. This drove home the importance of building professional relationships to the long-term success of operations.
“Many of our partner nations put great stock in interpersonal relationships,” he said. “We still have many friends at the personal level within the Turkish military, which is an important partner and ally.”
As his tour was winding down, Magnusson said there was an influx of both funding and personnel to broaden the contributions of the Operations Integration Cell. He said that because of the importance of Incirlik Air Base and other facilities, U.S. leadership placed great effort in maintaining and strengthening relationships with the Turkish military.
Looking back on his experiences of the last two years, especially the deployment to Turkey, Magnusson said he has a better understanding of geopolitics and has a deeper appreciation of our contributions and sacrifices in Northern Syria and Iraq.
He also noted that some of the old preconceptions about reservists are fading.
“No one walked up to me and asked if I was a reservist and that’s critical when you get there,” he said. "That’s a measure of success because we have conquered some of the stereotypes we have been trying to overcome as total-force partners.”
Magnusson also said that he realized there are many fascinating opportunities for fully-qualified reservists who are ready to apply their skills to help their country. And he’s not just talking about supporting the Air Force – “sister-services and the Interagency continue to need the Airman’s perspective as they plan and execute their disparate missions in support of national security.”
The key to getting involved, he said, is to ask and make your desires known.
“Ten years ago, I would never have thought to ask how I could support United Nations peacekeeping training with our Mongolian friends, but it happened,” he said. “As reservists, we might not know where the road will lead us, but we know where the journey starts—and as Citizen Airmen, the first step is always ours."