New Year, new missions for Air Force Reserve
By Staff Sgt. Jennifer Gregoire, Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs
/ Published October 24, 2005
ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- In the New Year, Citizen Airmen will see some new missions headed their way as they continue their efforts to fight and support the Global War on Terrorism.
Responding to the active-duty Air Force’s needs, reservists will take part in Future Total Force initiatives which will test new organizational constructs to integrate air reserve component personnel and active duty in virtually every facet of Air Force operations.
“In order to make the Future Total Force a reality, the Air Force will conduct a number of test cases to serve as proofs of concept. Initially the program involves six initiatives that are designed to improve our nation’s combat capability,” said Lt. Gen. John Bradley, commander of Air Force Reserve Command, here. “Three of the initiatives directly affect AFRC and will hopefully lead to less involuntary mobilizations in the future and more opportunities to retain our Air Force’s seasoned professionals in the Reserve.”
One test initiative will integrate reservists into all mission areas of the Air Warfare Center, Nellis AFB, Nev. Growing rapidly, the Air Warfare Center is starting new operations that require a new way of doing business. Using full-time reservists, called Active Guard and Reserve, the initiative is expected to alleviate the center’s high training loads, high operations tempo, limited surge capability and low experience levels. On Dec. 17, the center took its first step into the Future Total Force when Lt. Col. John Breeden assumed command of the center’s 11th Reconnaissance Squadron. As the first reservist to command a permanent active-duty squadron, he is responsible for Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle operations.
Another test initiative will incorporate reserve component Airmen into Predator operations along the southern border states. Texas and Arizona Air National Guard units will also take on Predator missions, and the Air Force Reserve will become further involved at stateside locations to be determined in the near future. The low turnover rate of the Guard and Reserve will significantly reduce the Air Force’s training costs associated with this mission. Dr. James Roche, Secretary of the Air Force, calls the new operations the “crown jewel of tomorrow’s Air Force.”
The last test initiative impacting AFRC will partner the active duty’s 388th Fighter Wing with the Reserve’s 419th Fighter Wing. Both units fly the F-16 and are located at Hill AFB, Utah. The goal is to accommodate peacetime training and wartime operations. Consolidating the F-16 resources will put the reservists into a position to help train the less-experienced active-duty members and increase their operational capability. For this initiative, planners will use the associate unit structure where both wings have their own commander and separate chains of command.
“For decades we’ve had Reserve associate unit successes with our mobility units, but we’ve never done it for the combat world,” said Col. Gregory Vitalis, chief, Programs Division, AFRC Plans and Programs Directorate. “Looking ahead we will be a smaller, more capable force, and our long-term goal is for the Reserve, Guard and active duty to better integrate their efforts as single entity.”
Successes with Reserve associate units, a generally more experienced force than their active-duty counterparts, and the ability to provide nearly 20 percent of the Air Force’s capability with approximately 4 percent of the Air Force’s budget are just some strengths AFRC brings to Future Total Force.
“Integrating Reserve and active-duty units makes sense and is being reviewed for every weapon system and every major command that AFRC is a joint partner in,” said Brig. Gen. Martin Mazick, director, AFRC Operations Directorate. “Future Total Force is just another step to keep us relevant and ready.”
As technology and new weapon systems increase the capability of the Total Force, less weapons systems are needed to provide today’s level of combat and airlift power. Officials at the headquarters say that what becomes more vital than the hardware is the pool of experienced professionals who train, mentor and provide a surge capability when needed.
This means having the right people at the right place at the right time, said Maj. Gen. Charles Stenner, director, AFRC Plans and Programs Directorate.
“If we have to mobilize during a steady state of operations, we know our force is not balanced,” said General Stenner. “Future Total Force will help us find that balance. It will help us get into the right missions and keep us relevant to the active-duty Air Force.”
Also, officials say the goal of the Future Total Force initiatives is to test new ways to balance the advantages and costs of each component – and see how each one most efficiently and effectively fits into tomorrow’s training and frontline missions.
“We know our Air Force wouldn’t be able to perform its mission without the Reserve,” said General Mazick. “What we bring to the Air Force as a capability is priceless.”