ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Air Force Reserve Command leaders held a virtual commander’s call via social media platforms today.
Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, commander of AFRC, and Chief Master Sgt. Timothy White, AFRC’s command chief master sergeant, highlighted achievements and challenges of 2020 and thanked Reserve Citizen Airmen for their hard work and dedication, and closed with a holiday message.
“Greetings heroes of the Air Force Reserve Command and happy holidays,” said Scobee. “It’s an honor for me and the command chief to speak with you and represent the 74,000 military and civilians of the command. There is no place we would rather be than right here in this organization and with each of you.”
Normally, the event would be held face-to-face but Scobee said the virtual commander's call was necessary to maintain social distancing, and to protect the overall health of the force.
Even though this event and many like it have been held virtually throughout the year due to COVID-19, the Air Force Reserve missions have not, he said, adding that reservists have been busy at home and abroad.
“2020 has brought many challenges and many successes to the Air Force Reserve Command,” said Scobee. “We supported active duty with over 10,000 reserve personnel providing unrivaled support to combatant commanders, the Department of Defense, and civil authorities, both right here and across the globe.”
Of those, more than 3,700 personnel were deployed for contingency operations both stateside and to the middle east, and more than 7,000 supported non-combat contingency operations, to include COVID-19 relief efforts.
“Over 1,700 Reserve Citizen Airmen deployed to support the response efforts both in New York City and in New Jersey. The rapid deployment of doctors, nurses, respiratory and medical technicians within 48 hours was unprecedented,” he said. “And they did that with the help of our mobility forces, moving people from wherever they were in the U.S. to where they needed to be.”
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year, units faced training and readiness challenges as their unit training assemblies moved to a virtual environment, forcing many Reserve Citizen Airmen to adapt and to embrace the "Reform the Organization" mentality.
“We mitigated the risk to our force and our mission, by being flexible and adaptive,” said Scobee. “The use of Desktop Anywhere, that was the way we were going to be able to telework, to maintain connectivity both on and off the networks. We were also adaptive in how we did our UTAs, to continue to train and meet our readiness goals.”
He also noted that commanders at all levels were given the authority to closely monitor situations in their local areas and make decisions as to who to bring and when the risk of force was necessary to meet the mission.
Aside from COVID-19, Reserve Citizen Airmen were also busy monitoring the busiest Hurricane Season on record, he said. The Hurricane Hunters flew more than 1,300 hours in 23 storms. We had 217 members directly involved in providing key weather information to the national weather service agencies across the U.S., potentially saving thousands of lives.
Scobee also talked about the Reserve Citizen Airmen who fought off three of the four busiest wildfires in California’s history, tackling 46 fires with only 64 personnel utilizing a Modular Airborne Fire Fighting equipped aircraft.
Touching on the increasing tensions regarding diversity and inclusion around the U.S., Scobee noted that AFRC was leading the way in change across the Total Force.
“The Air Force Reserve is at the forefront of leading change in diversity and inclusion. Efforts of our own chief diversity officer and others benchmarked what was going to be done here in our command, but also by the active duty,” he said. “Diversity is the strength of the Air Force Reserve.”
"Touching on self-care, White mentioned taking strides to enhance personal care and growth.
“Service before self does not mean service at the expense of self, he said. "Make sure that we're taking care of our physical health and well-being, as well as our mental and spiritual health. Take time to recharge and relax. You are important to the mission. You are important to your families. And you are important to us."
Scobee's wife, Janis, and White’s wife, Edith, were also present for the commander’s call and touched on resiliency and resources for military members and their families.
“Resiliency isn’t just important for you, the Citizen Airmen, but also for your families,” said Edith. The well-being of our reserve families is essential to the success of our Airmen and mission. It is a key ingredient in forming strong, supportive, and inclusive networks, and communities. We are stronger together than we are alone.”
Edith also touched on the importance of wingman checks during the holidays, especially with the added stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The key spouse program provides a forum for open communication and a means to network with other families in a way to interact and know that you are not alone,” said Janis. “It also provides an avenue to get information on available resources and how to access them, whether it be counseling or mental health, aid assistance, childcare, and education, or just getting to know your local Air Force Reserve family network.”
Before closing, Scobee talked of “promising” news of the COVID-19 vaccine and that AFRC is involved in planning discussions for Total Force distribution.
“There’s more to follow,” he said. “Stay vigilant and follow [Centers for Disease Control] protocols to protect you, your families, and your fellow Americans.”
In closing, Scobee said, “Thanks for being part of the Air Force Reserve family. You are the reason we are successful and able to generate combat power for our nation."
White added remarks.
"Take this time to re-energize," he said. "Enjoy your families and connect with each other. Stay safe. Come back in the new year, ready to take on 2021 by storm."
The commander's call ended with a wish for everyone to have a safe and peaceful holiday season.