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Air Force Introduces Future Total Force Concept

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2004 -- The Air Force unveiled its new Future Total Force concept at the Pentagon Dec. 1, introducing six test cases that will help shape the way the service trains, equips and employs its active- and reserve- component members.

The new plan will help prepare the Air Force for the future by maximizing the capability of equipment and balancing the experience levels of Air Force members, said Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, Air Force deputy chief of staff for plans and programs. This will reduce redundancies and eliminate outdated operations while improving the service's training, effectiveness and overall combat capability, he said.

The Future Total Force concept is a major step in the Air Force's transformation plans. This effort, championed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, involves departmentwide changes in organization, technology and the concept of operations to increase combat capabilities, Wood explained.

Wood called the Future Total Force concept "a great news story for the Air Force" that he said will take successes in integrating active Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard forces in expeditionary operations and apply them stateside as well. "This will allow us to capitalize on the rich experience of our reserve components," he said.

The new concept puts heavy emphasis on "reachback" capabilities that enable airmen to use new technology to conduct missions anywhere on the globe -- such as flying unmanned aerial vehicles -- from their home stations. This will help reduce involuntarily mobilizations, officials said, while enabling the Air Force to tap into its reserve-component capabilities and the stability these airmen bring to the Air Force.

Lt. Gen. Daniel James III, director of the Air National Guard, said the Future Total Force concept will help the Air Force tailor itself for "new, relevant missions." These include not just intelligence reachback operations, but also those involving space; command and control; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Air Force officials are calling the new plan a "win-win" for everyone involved: the active and reserve components, civilian employers who will endure fewer employees deployments, and American taxpayers who will get more bang from their defense buck.

But Army Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said, the Future Total Force concept will also be a huge benefit to combatant commanders who rely on the Air Force to deliver vital warfighting capabilities.

By rebalancing its missions and skill sets, the Air Force will "optimize its active, Guard and Reserve brainpower" and help shape itself to support the joint expeditionary operational force, Blum said. "These are bold, big, transformational steps the Air Force is taking," he said.

The Air Force will begin introducing the concept through six test cases, all of which will be reviewed regularly to determine how well they are working and to validate the Future Total Force concept, Wood said.

Blum said the test cases will provide "a prototype on the ground" that leaders can evaluate, fine-tune and use as a model for future planning.

The six test cases for the program are:

  • The Air National Guard and active Air Force will be full partners in the transition to the F/A-22 Raptor, the service's newest fighter aircraft -- the first time the reserve components have been in "on the ground floor" during the fielding of a major weapons system, officials said. This test will involve the Virginia National Guard's 192nd Fighter Wing and the active Air Force's 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, Va.

  • Active-duty airmen will be stationed with the Vermont Air National Guard so they can learn from the more experienced Guard members. Officials said this will "rebalance the service's experience levels."

  • Air Force Reservists from the 419th Fighter Wing will integrate into the active duty's 388th Fighter Wing to perform the full spectrum of missions. Both units are based at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. This "integrated fighter associate unit" will be stood up by October 2005, officials said.

  • The Texas and Arizona Air National Guards will conduct Predator unmanned aerial vehicle missions in a reachback capacity over long distances from their home states.

  • Air Reserve components will partner with Army Reserve components to operate a new Distributive Ground Station in western New York that processes global intelligence information.

  • Air Force Reserve members will participate in all mission areas at the Air Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The first new reserve-component mission will be Predator unmanned aerial vehicle missions.

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