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The Total Force and world-wide engagement

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

Air Force Reserve senior leaders participated in an on-demand panel at the Air Force Association’s virtual Aerospace Warfare Symposium, which debuted Feb. 24.

Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, commander of Air Force Reserve Command, and Chief Master Sgt. Timothy White, AFRC’s command chief master sergeant, participated together to address the AFRC perspective of the Total Force and its world-wide engagement along with Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, director of the Air National Guard, and Chief Master Sgt. Maurice Williams, command chief of the Air National Guard.

The panel, now available on demand at the AFA organization’s website, opened with retired Maj. Gen. Doug Raaberg asking each leadership team about its perspective on the state of the Guard and Reserve respectively.

Scobee said the Guard and Reserve are in many of the same mission sets as the active component because the Air Force requires that surge capacity.

“That’s what we do, we deliver effective, agile, responsive Airmen to fight the wars that we’re going to need to fight for America… that’s 20% of the capacity for the entire Air Force for only 3% of the Air Force budget,” said Scobee.

He said as America gets into an era with constrained budgets and really starts looking at how the Air Force builds capacity and capability, it’s going to be incumbent upon the Guard and Reserve to be able to keep the capacity were it can be used. He said he thinks it’s going to pay huge dividends figuratively and literally moving forward for the Air Force.

White said that on average the Air Force Reserve has roughly 6,000 Reserve Citizen Airmen deployed to support contingency, national emergency and steady state operational missions.

“Our Airmen serve in every corner of the globe imaginable, supporting 11 combatant commanders, defending air, space and cyber domains,” said White. “Saying that we’re globally engaged may be a bit of an understatement."

Raaberg then guided the discussion towards each team’s readiness priorities.

Scobee said, “While we’re globally engaged, my favorite mission is taking care of Americans.”
The Air Force Reserve activated 1,700 Reserve Citizen Airmen at the beginning of the support for COVID-19 operations. Airmen were on the ground in New York and New Jersey within 48 hours of getting the notice.

“We were notified Friday evening. On Sunday afternoon we had Reserve Citizen Airmen on the ground relieving human suffering of our fellow Americans,” said Scobee. “It was the biggest unplanned mobilization we’ve had since 9/11.”

The Air Force Reserve took the professionals who were not engaged in COVID-19 support and brought out surplus capability from across the nation to where it was needed. Scobee said those professionals were then filtered back out to communities where COVID hadn’t hit yet, which provided experts that are in the Air Force Reserve and able to help those communities recover. That is the synergistic effect of having Citizen Airmen. It strengthens our response as an entire nation, he said.

While the Air Force Reserve is ready, the leaders highlighted some of the concerns they see and how they’re aiming to address them.

“We’re trying to make it more comfortable and convenient for people to serve. What we’ve found is that we will never be able to compensate people for the amount of blood and sweat they put into service to their nation,” Scobee said. “It would be impossible. But we can provide an environment where they feel valued and capable of serving their nation and that is what we’re going to do.”

The conversation then moved to the hot topic of diversity and inclusion and what the teams are doing to provide a more equitable environment for their Airmen.

White said that one of the things that he’s proud of with the Air Force Reserve is that the command has been proactive in the area of diversity and inclusion.

“We’ve been in some form of diversity and inclusion improvement for years with the stand-up of our Human Resource Development Council,” said White. “What’s important and what I’m hearing from the field is that we don’t let this pass.”

He said the Air Force Reserve represents a segment of society and society isn’t perfect but as leaders they owe their Airmen better and have to do better. He said that is the commitment from the Air Force Reserve leadership team, to make the command better for everyone.

“We’ve got to be careful about losing or offending maybe 80% of the population over something that maybe only impacts 20% of the population but if you’re within that 20% then you are 100% affected,” said White. “So we’ve got to make sure that we put processes and programs in place and we take a hard look to confront this issue head-on ensuring we make this command better.”