Roll Call! We have nearly 690,000 Airmen in our Air Force, from 4 distinct components: Active Duty, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and Civilian Airmen – without question the Strength of our Team. The components have different backgrounds and cultures, with varying capability and capacity, but only when we join forces do we become the United States Air Force – the world’s greatest Air Force. If we’re missing one piece of the team, the picture is not complete; the team is not as strong.
The U.S. Soccer team had a similar dynamic at this summer’s World Cup, which captured the psyche of the American public. Televisions across the country were tuned to witness an underdog team of 23 Americans valiantly compete for the sport’s top prize. Throughout the tournament – in print, on social media, television and radio – a slogan emerged that captured the team’s spirit: One Nation. One Team. The players may be from different backgrounds and cultures, with varying strengths and skills, but together they represent one nation, and they compete as one team. It’s a simple slogan, synonymous with our Air Force: One Air Force. One Team.
The dynamic between components has changed over the years, each shifting in size and taking on different missions to ensure we Win the Fight. Over the last 20-plus years, Civilian Airmen have taken on greater roles, the Reserve Components have thrown off the ready-reserve shroud to become a fully operational reserve force, and Active Duty has become the leanest in our history. As a team we are the most efficient fighting force we have ever been, and we’ll continue to adapt as we Shape our Future.
In the coming years, the Air Force will take deliberate action to further integrate the components, where it makes fiscal and operational sense, in order to provide the most efficient source of airpower for our nation. The dynamic may seem different. It may look different and in some cases feel different, but one thing that will and must never change is our ability to accomplish the mission as a team. One Air Force. One Team.
As Airmen, we must internalize that sentiment and appreciate the strength each component brings to the fight. We cannot hinder our effort based on preconceived notions that one component is stronger or better than another. When we bring airpower to bear around the world, no ally or adversary can tell whether that power came from Active, Guard, Reserve or Civilian Airmen – they just know it was powerful, and effective.
Each component has a proud history and culture that has shaped who we are today. Airmen feel connected to their history; they are proud of their culture. And they should be – as all Americans are, but in the end we’ll always represent the name taped across the heart of our ABUs.
We are the U.S. Air Force. One Air Force. One Team.