WASHINGTON, D.C. — Continuing to perform an operational role, while solving manpower costs and dealing with shrinking defense budgets highlighted topics discussed at the Reserve Officers Association 2013 National Security Symposium.
More than 300 people attended the conference Aug. 7-10 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. They included senior leaders from the Department of Defense and its reserve components.
“There’s lots of talk on operational verses strategic reserve,” said Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, chief of Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command. “Each service is a bit different, but for the Air Force, it is crucial we have ‘Tier One’ readiness.”
Tier One readiness means being ready to go immediately by keeping the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard trained to the same standards as the Regular Air Force.
Speed is the decisive factor when crisis erupts, said Jackson during a panel discussion with his fellow reserve component chiefs.
During a “State of the Air Force Reserve” briefing, Maj. Gen. Richard S. Haddad, deputy to the chief of Air Force Reserve at the Pentagon, discussed a new organization expected to have “synergistic benefits that will pay huge dividends” for national defense.
“Earlier this year the newly created Air Force Special Operations Air Warfare Center stood up at Duke [Field, Fla.],” said Haddad. “This center brings together more than 500 active-duty and reserve Airmen for the special operations mission.”
He added that the Air Force Reserve is planning to add five more “associate units” where reservists share equipment and facilities with active-duty Airmen in the growing fields of cyberspace, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
As the defense budget continues to streamline and officials look for new ways to save money, talk often goes to merging the Guard and Reserve.
“It’s now more important than ever that those in the D.C. beltway understand there is a difference between the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve,” said Haddad. “We are all brothers and sisters in arms… but we need to remind people there are differences.”
The Air Force Reserve is a federal Title 10 force, always at the service of the president and secretary of defense. The Air National Guard maintains dual status, day-to-day serving in Title 32 at the service of a state’s governor. Guardsmen serve under a Title 10 or federal status only when mobilized or as a volunteer with the consent of their state leadership.
Haddad outlined the history of merger attempts in 1948, 1964 and 2003 and how the past proposals were not able to successfully save money and cover the requirements for a ready-now federal reserve and support the governor-controlled state militias.
“So the talk of the Guard assimilating the Reserve or the Reserve assimilating the Guard likely isn’t within political reality,” said Haddad. “Better integration needs to be a focus of our efforts.”
“Today’s debate should be centered on how to best capitalize on our strengths and core competencies to improve the Total Force team,” said Jackson. “We’re optimistic about the future, and we’re working hard to shape the Air Force for the future fight in 2023.”
Jackson affirmed that federal laws such as Title 10 USC 12304(a) guarantee the Air Force Reserve is accessible for homeland support during national emergencies and natural disasters. Also, Title 10 USC 12304(b) provides combatant commanders and department of defense planners a way to incorporate cost-effective reservists into their reoccurring steady-state plans.
Both laws were enacted in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. The laws support today’s “Operational Reserve” being critical to the daily operations of the U.S. military at home and around the world.