Air Force

April 13, 2012

AFRC leader gets down to business in fighter country

Courtesy of 944th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Pg 1 AFRC photo with story
Staff Sgt. Louis Vega Lt. Gen. Charles Stenner Jr., Air Force Reserve Command commander, and Lt. Col. Sandy Vandiviere, his aide, depart Luke Air Force Base March 31 after a quick tour and townhall meeting hosted by Col. Jose Monteagudo, 944th Fighter Wing commander.

Lt. Gen. Charles Stenner, Air Force Reserve Command commander, visited the 944th Fighter Wing April 1 at Luke Air Force Base.

Stenner used his time at Luke to discuss business with Col. Jose Monteagudo, 944th FW commander, and his senior leadership team. The major command commander also hosted a townhall meeting at Club Five Six for local reservists, where he discussed the top five priorities for AFRC.

“There’s no real surprise here,” the general said, pointing to the slide. “Our top priorities are the same as the Air Force top priorities, but what I want to explain is how Reserve capabilities fit in and support the overall Air Force mission.”

He drew clear lines of distinction for the audience on Air Force priorities and how exactly reservists support the fight. For the first two priorities of strengthening the nuclear enterprise and partnering with the joint and coalition team to win today’s fight, the general said reservists would support these areas by maintaining a strategic Reserve and providing an operational, combat-ready force.

He discussed how a strategic Reserve with operational capability allows commanders to plug-in forces when and where manpower is needed most and then draw down quickly when the need is over.

“From a budget perspective our Reserve is a win-win operation,” Stenner said. “Here you are, trained to the same standards as your active-duty counterparts and ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. I get all the benefit of your experience and the financial flexibility of calling you only when I need you. I’d be blind as a commander not to see the value in that.”

For the third Air Force priority, develop and care for Airmen and their families, the commander pointed to the Reserve triad, the “three-legged stool” analogy often used to describe the support structure of a successful reservist.

“In this area we must continue to ensure that our triad is strong,” Stenner said. “One leg is the unit, one is the family, and the third is our civilian employer. If any of these support structures are weak our reservists cannot stand strong. We must know when and where to get help for our members, should one of these areas need our attention.”

For unit support, the commander reinforced supervision, training and mentorship. He went on to say knowing where to find resources is half the battle when issues arise.

“If it’s unit help that’s needed, we look to the supervisor, first shirt and commander. If it’s the family unit that needs help, we have our Airmen and Family Readiness Center and programs like Yellow Ribbon. If it’s the civilian employer that’s an issue, we reach out to Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

We have these resources, but they can only help if we use them, and our Reserve can only stay strong if we take care of the members at an individual level. If any one of these three legs is weak, our stool will wobble and that’s where we start to see problems that we have the ability to avoid.”

The fourth and fifth Air Force priorities are modernize our air, space and cyberspace inventories, organizations, and training, and recapture acquisition excellence.

The commander said Airmen could support these causes by broadening Total Force Integration opportunities and championing equipment and facilities modernization.

“When you look at ‘Modernize our air, space and cyberspace inventory,’ I know you think airplanes,” he said. “Yes, we’re going to buy new airplanes and that’s important, but modernization includes our computer systems and training too. I need you to constantly be looking at ways to improve processes, yourselves and your Airmen. We can’t afford to do things the way we’ve always done it, and I need you to be ready to take on more responsibility. We all must be training our replacements. This is a vital part of modernizing our Air Force.”

The commander’s final topic of discussion was what he sees as the pathway to senior leadership within the Air Force Reserve. He explained every reservist must build a foundation of expertise within their Air Force specialty, successfully complete professional military education and pursue off-duty education. However, he added, for those who wish to become senior leaders within the command, he said reservist should seek various assignments throughout their wing, leadership opportunities, joint assignments and become experienced within the National Capital Region.

“When it comes to doing business in Washington D.C., there is method, or maybe a madness to it,” he joked. “But I need a staff that understands how Washington works and that’s why I have the National Capital Region as part of the path to senior leadership. For the 2-to-3 percent of reservists who aspire to this level, a tour of duty in D.C. is vital. I need things to flow.”

Stenner took questions from the audience and thanked the men and women of the 944th FW for their hard work and dedication.

“There is an abundance of experienced and talented people throughout the Reserve,” he said. “We bring a highly experienced force to the table which is becoming more important during today’s budget constrained environment. We have a culture of excellence.”

Stenner is Chief of Air Force Reserve, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., as well as AFRC commander, Robins Air Force Base, Ga. As chief of Air Force Reserve, he serves as principal adviser on Reserve matters to the Air Force chief of staff. As commander of AFRC, he has full responsibility for the supervision of all U.S. Air Force Reserve units around the world.

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