“Total Force Integration allows us to leverage Air Reserve Component experience, improve access to aircraft, encourage retention, and increase total force effectiveness,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz during opening remarks at the 18th Air Force TFI Summit at Joint Base Andrews, Md., April 3-4.
The two-day summit brought together more than 100 enlisted and officer leaders from the Total Force to discuss ways of improving the effectiveness and efficiency of active duty and ARC associate units through increased integration.
“We are all airmen,” said Lt. Gen. Mark Ramsay, 18th Air Force commander and the event’s host. “Our goal here is to tackle issues that will make our Air Force even better. Nothing we will discuss is easy, but we are here to address those issues that affect our ability to remain a superb Air Force.
“The key is that we have meaningful dialogue to put key issues on the table for resolution.”
Built on three models – classic associate, active associate, and ARC associate – TFI enhances the Air Force’s ability to conduct its mission through the sharing of resources between active duty and ARC components, including aircraft, crews, maintenance, and support.
In the classic associate model, an active duty unit retains principal responsibility for a weapon system which it shares with one or more ARC units. In the active associate model, an ARC unit has that responsibility. In an ARC associate model, one ARC component has responsibility for the system that it shares with another ARC unit.
Among the issues which underpinned discussion at the summit were the challenges of shifting operational focus to align with the Defense Department’s new strategic guidance, and the effects of increasingly constrained budgets and reduced force structure.
Ramsay said that in an environment where “we will have more capability but less capacity,” TFI is foundational to ensuring the Air Force continues to become even more efficient and effective.
That point was echoed by many of the Air Mobility Command and Air Staff briefers at the summit, who discussed a variety of subjects including services transformation, Air and Space Expeditionary Force Next, rating chain and personnel issues, unit inspections, and Title 10/32 issues.
“[TFI] associations have grown from something unique to the way we have to operate for the future,” said Lt. Gen. Christopher Miller, the Air Force’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Programs, and one of the summit briefers.
Schwartz said he saw the summit as providing attendees the opportunity for extensive, face-to-face interaction with peers, where they could share ideas from varying perspectives.
“We do not always agree in complete unanimity,” Schwartz said. “But I believe that different viewpoints ultimately strengthen us, as long as we stay focused on our common goal of a ready and viable total force.”