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Flexibility key to force development in Air Force Reserve

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Force development for members of the Air Force Reserve will be tailored to meet the needs of Citizen Airmen and be flexible enough to satisfy the career goals of reservists of all shapes and sizes, according to the officer overseeing the program.

Maj. Dean Hicks, force development point person for the Air Force Reserve at the Pentagon, said no one will lose sight of the “unique needs” of Reserve officers, enlisted troops and civilians.

“The vision for Reserve force development – as an element of Total Force development – is to create a Reserve force that is responsive to overall Air Force requirements and can be managed as an integral part of the Total Force,” Major Hicks said. “In doing so, we cannot lose sight of the fact that we are predominantly a part-time force and must respect the fact that we share our reservists with their civilian employers and their families. The challenge is finding a way to deliberately develop our people while still respecting their time and volunteerism.”

“Force development” is the term coined by senior leaders when discussing how the Air Force trains, educates and assigns its Airmen. It includes changes to developmental education and the assignment process. Force development stems from direction given by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper in November 2002.

Much of the force development “foundation” comes from the Air Force Strategic Personnel Plan. It’s also based on the recently published Air Force Doctrine Document 1-1, Leadership and Force Development. Lt. Gen. John A. Bradley, Air Force Reserve Command commander, emphasized the importance of the doctrine document in a recent message.

“It lays the foundation for how we deliberately develop the force,” he said. “We have taken its tenets to heart. ...”

In the 18-page document called “Force Development (Reserve Officer) Concept of Operations,” senior leaders pinpointed what’s needed during this transformation.

“(The goal is) translating desired mission effects into capabilities and determining the human competencies needed to satisfy them,” the document said.

Force development, Major Hicks said, will help ensure Reserve officers – be they at the tactical, operational or strategic level of the fight – “will have the requisite occupational and leadership competencies to excel.”

Force development affects each functional area. Similar to the active-duty force, the Reserve formed an integrated process team almost two years ago to look at functional areas across the board. The Reserve organized the team around the various reservist categories – Active Guard and Reserve, individual mobilization augmentee, traditional reservist and air reserve technician. The team met four times with the most recent meeting taking place in February.

Officers have already seen two changes, both in the area of selection for developmental education courses. In a change occurring in 2004, personnel records were also updated to reflect reduced emphasis on secondary degrees.

Much of the early process focused on revamping the career paths of about 16,000 officers, but the command’s top chief master sergeant said the same transformation is beginning for the 60,000-plus members of the enlisted force.

“The ultimate goal is to ensure the Air Force Reserve deliberately develops enlisted people to meet future needs,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jackson A. Winsett, AFRC command chief master sergeant.

Meanwhile, as the Reserve enlisted transformation begins, the chief said he has six priorities:

* Proper utilization of the enlisted force.

* Developing the enlisted force to assume greater responsibility.

* Ensuring that families are priority one.

* Continuing to foster the relationship between the Citizen Airman and the employer.

* Recognition of the Reserve’s people.

* Ensuring all enlisted people have a fair and equitable opportunity to succeed.

Chief Winsett described why it is so important to ensure any changes to the enlisted system work.

“Lots of folks – civilian and military – don’t realize there are 60,000 enlisted people in all categories – unit, IMA, AGR, ART and active duty – assigned to the command,” the chief said. “Those men and women are counting on us to make the right call and to ensure that the recommendation or decision is always fair and equitable.”

Chief Winsett met with the enlisted integrated process team March 17 and 18 in Washington, D.C. The outcome of the meeting was not readily available.

With change on the horizon, Major Hicks emphasized the need to tailor force development to the needs of Air Force reservists.

“The continuing goal in Reserve force development is deliberate and organized development tailored to meet AFR needs within the context and culture of the Citizen Airman program,” he said.