Commentary

November 1, 2013

Leaders advise against merging Guard, Reserve

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Col. Bob Thompson
Air Force Reserve Public Affairs

Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, the chief of the Air Force Reserve, testifies to the National Commission of the Structure of the Air Force October 24, 2013 in Arlington, Va. The National Commission of the Structure of the Air Force was established by Congress this year to comprehensively study the U.S. Air Force and it three components – active, reserve and Air National Guard – and determine how the Air Force’s structure should be modified to best fill current and future mission requirements, including homeland defense, with available resources.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Air Force Reserve leaders told members of the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force that merging the Air Force Reserve with the Air National Guard would create little value and cause numerous adverse impacts – detracting from the broader goal of improving the Air Force structure.

Appointed by the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, the commissioners listened to testimony Oct. 24-25. They are looking at the Air Force’s structure to determine if and how it should be changed to meet future missions and funding challenges. Their report and recommendations are due to the president by Feb. 1, 2014.

“I believe the nation benefits from the synergistic value of a three-component Air Force consisting of the Active Duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard,” said Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, chief of Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command, during his testimony on Oct. 24.

Members of the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force interviewed senior leaders – from past and present, active duty, guard and reserve – to review proposals to integrate the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard into one reserve component.

“I do not believe combining the AFR and ANG is beneficial or value-added to our nation,” Jackson told the commission. “A merger of the (two components) has been discussed many times during the 65 years of our history, yet has never materialized.”

The commissioners also met with the top enlisted leaders of each of the three components and asked about strengths, capabilities, improvements, shortfalls, resiliency, participation, recruiting, retention and morale.

“We have met our recruiting goal for the 13th consecutive year,” said Chief Master Sgt. Cameron B. Kirksey, AFRC command chief, during his testimony to the commission Oct. 25. “Our retention rate has averaged 88 percent for the past seven years. Morale continues to be high, and our Airmen want to serve more than ever.

“We are concerned with the current budget environment and the effects of sequestration,” he said. “From furloughs and paycheck losses, to the stress caused by financial uncertainty, the resiliency of the force is being tested, with the long-term impacts yet to be fully understood.”

Regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Airmen work together around the world as a team in air, space and cyberspace. Today’s Total Force consists of about 327,600 active-duty Airmen in the Regular Air Force along with 105,400 Air National Guardsmen and 70,880 Air Force Reserve Airmen actively serving in the Selected Reserve as designated by the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act. The Air Force Reserve also maintains a strategic depth of more than 790,000 stand-by or non-participating reservists and retirees who can be called up for national emergencies.

“We deliver our diverse portfolio of capability through air, space and cyberspace as a federal reserve, always in Title 10 status, whether at home or abroad,” Kirksey said.

“The Air Force Reserve always serves in Title 10 status as the federal member of the Air Reserve Component,” said Jackson.

This is the third time Jackson has spoken to the commission. In previous testimony, he told the commission about an analytical simulation tool called the “Individual Cost Assessment Model,” which can determine an Airman’s overall life-cycle cost, in all three components.

Leveraging the cost-effectiveness, capability and capacity of the reserve and guard during this time of fiscal austerity is of keen interest to the commission. Led by the Honorable Dennis M. McCarthy, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general and the previous assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs at the Pentagon, the commission has visited and interviewed Airmen across the country. The vice chair is the Honorable Erin Conaton, a former undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and previous under secretary of the Air Force.




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