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New year brings new missions for Air Force Reserve

by Staff Sgt. Jennifer Gregoire
Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs

1/10/2005 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFPN) -- This year, citizen Airmen will see some new missions headed their way as they continue their efforts to fight and support the war against terrorism.

Responding to the active-duty needs, reservists will take part in Future Total Force initiatives that will test new organizational constructs to integrate reserve-component and active-duty Airmen in virtually every facet of Air Force operations.

To make the Future Total Force a reality, Air Force officials will conduct a number of test cases to serve as proofs of concept. Initially it involves six initiatives that are designed to improve the nation's combat capability, said Lt. Gen. John A. 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," he said.

One test initiative will integrate reservists into all mission areas of the Air Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The center is starting new operations that require a new way of doing business. Using full-time reservists, the initiative is expected to alleviate the center's high training loads, high operations tempo, limited surge capability and low experience levels.

The center took its first step into the Future Total Force in December when Lt. Col. John Breeden assumed command of the center's 11th Reconnaissance Squadron. As the commander of 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. 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.

Secretary of the Air Force Dr. James G. Roche called the new operations the "crown jewel of tomorrow's Air Force."

The third test initiative will partner the active duty's 388th Fighter Wing with the Reserve's 419th Fighter Wing. Both units fly the F-16 Fighting Falcon 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 Airmen and increase their operational capability, officials said. 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, of AFRC's 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 (a) 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 about 4 percent of the Air Force's budget are just some strengths AFRC brings to Future Total Force, officials said.

"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 of 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, fewer 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 E. Stenner Jr., AFRC's plans and programs directorate director.

"If we have to mobilize during a steady state of operations, we know our force is not balanced," General Stenner said. "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. (Courtesy of AFRC News Service)

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