Air Force Secretary Reports on Total Force Balance
Air Force Secretary Reports
on Total Force Balance
By Amaani Lyle, American Forces Press Service.
Washington D.C. – (AFPS)
– April 30, 2014 – Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James yesterday outlined the
service’s progress in leveraging the talent and capabilities of the Air National
Guard and the Air Force Reserve within the total force concept.
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of
Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III testify at a Senate Armed Services Committee
hearing on the Air Force's structure before the Senate Arms Services Committee
in Washington, D.C., April 29, 2014. James and Welsh said the Air Force's future
will more fully incorporate personnel from the Air Force Reserve and the Air
U.S. Air Force photo by Scott M. Ash
A tiger team of three generals from each reserve component
conducted a comprehensive review of mission requirements, recommended ideas for
improving collaboration and sought avenues to balance total force capabilities,
James told the senators. “We laid in force structure changes to take advantage
of the Guard and Reserve's strength,” James said. “For example, in the area of
[intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance], we've increased reserve
components’ presence in the MQ-1 and [MQ-9] fleets of remotely piloted aircraft,
so we're going from 17 percent to 24 percent representation in that arena.”
In the cyber arena, James said, three new Air Force Reserve
units will reflect an increase in that capability in fiscal year 2016.
Meanwhile, James said the Air Force will decrease its active
component end-strength by 17 percent while decreasing the Air Force Reserve and
Air National Guard end-strength by 3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively, by
fiscal 2015. “In the future, we hope to garner enough savings by moving
capability and capacity to the reserve component so that future end-strength
cuts may not be necessary,” she said.
The secretary also reported better projection and budgeting
of Guard and Reserve man-day use, with a 70-percent increase in planned
man-years over the next two years.
James told the senators that Air Force leaders agree with 86
percent of the suggestions put forth by the National Commission on the Structure
of the Air Force, established by Congress as part of the fiscal 2013 defense
spending bill. However, she added, they differ with the commission’s
recommendation that Air Force Reserve Command be disestablished. “We're all for
integration, and of course, that is the basis of that recommendation,” James
said. “But we feel … in fiscal year 2015, we don't have a good alternative way
to manage and provide for … 70,000 members of the Air Force Reserve, so we would
disagree with that proposition, at least for [fiscal 2015].”
James reported that the Total Force Continuum, another group
of generals, will lead the charge for myriad initiatives, one being facilitating
an airman’s ability to serve in the active force, the Air National Guard and the
Air Force Reserve in the course of a career.
To facilitate a new total force personnel and pay system in
support of the continuum of service, the secretary said, the Air Force has
integrated force support squadrons at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.; March Air
Reserve Base, Calif.; and Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H. “One unit is
essentially serving all of the three different components in the geographic area
with respect to personnel systems,” she explained.
James noted an uptick in shared active and reserve-component
squadrons, or Air Force associations, from 102 to 124, a 22 percent increase in
recent years. “It's a form of integration, and we're kicking it up a notch and
doing more of these in the future,” she said.
To retain talent across the total force, the secretary said,
the Air Force has reduced the active duty service commitment payback in the
Palace Chase Service Commitment Waiver Program from three reserve years for
every year of active commitment down to one. Palace Chase is the name of the Air
Force program in which an active-duty airman transfers to the reserve component.
The program also expanded to include rated officers, James said. “Bottom line
there is we're making it easier and more attractive to people to enter the Guard
and Reserve,” she added.
James also reported seeking authority from the Defense
Department to implement aviator retention pay to traditional reservists. “As an
aviator leaves active duty [for] the Guard and Reserve, I want to be able to [offer]
that incentive pay,” she said.
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Deborah Lee James
Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III
Welsh Promotes Balance of Stewardship, Capability