AFR Chief participates in Total Force Panel at 2017 AFA Conference
By Lt. Col. Erin Dick, Reserve Policy Integration
/ Published September 21, 2017
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. --
Hundreds of Airmen convened to hear senior Air Force leaders from the active, guard, and reserve components participate in the Total Force Panel at the 2017 Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference Sept. 19. The panel, moderated by the President of AFA, Gen. (ret.) Larry Spencer, included Lt. Gen. Maryanne Miller, chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command; Lt. Gen. Scott L. Rice, director of the Air National Guard; and Lt. Gen. Jerry D. Harris, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements.
The panel focused on how important the Reserve and Guard components are to the mission of the Air Force, which has been in combat for more than a quarter century, and included opening remarks from all panelists, and a question and answer session.
“It’s an honor to be here to represent the Reserve component of our one Air Force, providing the diversity, capability and capacity for our nation’s defense,” said Gen. Miller. “Today, I represent nearly 69,000 Reserve Citizen Airmen who have volunteered for nearly three decades supporting persistent global operations.”
Gen. Miller noted that last year, Reserve Citizen Airmen served more 4.4 million man days, and that more than 6,500 reservists are on duty supporting overseas and stateside operations every day. She illustrated this point by highlighting the ongoing lifesaving work of the US Air Force Reserve Airmen including special missions like the Hurricane Hunters of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, the airborne firefighting capability of the 302nd Airlift Wing, and the aerial spray mission of the 910th Airlift Wing.
Gen. Miller also talked about steps taken to improve and strengthen the readiness and capability of the Air Force Reserve to support the mission anytime, anywhere.
“We’ve implemented changes to improve our strength as an Air Force Reserve,” Gen. Miller said. “We started the process to recover our full-time support manning levels, renewed ways to increase our critical-skills inventory, and focused on improving the readiness rate for today’s fight, while strengthening our contributions to space, cyber and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance.”
Some audience members asked the panel questions about how the Reserve and Guard components differentiate themselves as the total force becomes more fully integrated.
“As we look at the capacity the Air Force has, the true differentiator with the Reserve is our ability to be a part-time or full-time force,” Gen. Miller said. “As full time Reservists, we look the same as the active duty, there is no difference. It’s the part-time piece and answering the question of how and when are we going to use part-time versus full-time—the right mix is needed to really get after the mission.”
All three panelists agreed that in order to better retain skilled, experienced professionals, it should be easier for Airmen to move between the components or across the services, as it best suits their lives and their professional goals.
Gen. Miller also discussed wanting to tackle existing restrictions and potentially enabling retired active duty Airmen to enter the Reserve and capture indispensable talent.
“If an active component retiree wants to come back into the Reserve, we are exploring options to do it for a certain amount of time and for certain jobs,” Gen. Miller explained. “The Canadian Air Force is made up entirely of retired active component people who are full of longevity and experience,” she said. “We have to keep our people longer because the pool of potential recruits is getting smaller, and I want to be able to take an active component retiree and have them in the Reserve for up to 35 years of service.”
In closing, Gen. Miller reemphasized that the Reserve has a strong foundation and highlighted a major milestone for the component.
“Your Air Force Reserve is strong, and next year we will celebrate our own 70th anniversary. We look forward to an amazing time considering our beginning, celebrating our past, and shaping our future.”