People may hear about joint operations between the U.S. Air Force and foreign countries when it comes to training pilots and maintainers, but it’s rare to hear of Air Force reservists working hand-in-hand with active-duty Airmen.
This is part of the total force integration at Luke to improve training and upkeep on aircraft by including 944th Fighter Wing reservists.
“The significant thing about having reservists working with active-duty Airmen is they’re helping provide the Air Force assistance in training the world’s greatest F-16 and F-35 pilots,” said Chief Master Sgt. Scott Jongewaard, 944th FW Detachment 1 maintenance superintendent.
As with all things involving change, challenges come with the integration process.
“The biggest challenge thus far has been integrating reservists at all levels and sections,” Jongewaard said. “The 56th Maintenance Group has been the best in accepting us and trying to integrate us as fast as possible. We’re doing well at it, and we’re up to speed.”
The integration process is already in progress and is helping various units.
“It was bumpy at first, but it’s going better with more people here,” said Master Sgt. Dawayne Reeds, 309th Aircraft Maintenance Unit tactical aircraft maintenance specials section chief. “When the traditional reservists first came in, it saved us that week because of how much work we had to take care of. The big plan is to have all sections have reservists integrated into them which would greatly improve manning.”
This process of integrating the reserves with active-duty presents opportunities for both forces to learn from each other while working together.
“I think this will better relations between active-duty and reservist Airmen by giving us a basic understanding of what our strengths and challenges are,” Jongewaard said. “This will only help us maintain the equipment better here. An example of this is we have our reservists out here one weekend a month to knock out a lot of work not normally accomplished during flying hours. I think knowing both our strengths and challenges will make it better here at Luke.”
Challenges aside, the integration process has brought the two forces closer together with a common objective.
“It’s a continuous process because we can’t just say we’re integrated and good to go since Airmen change stations,” Jongewaard said. “We’ll have to rework things. Ultimately, I think this integration is going to be the best thing for the Air Force to be able to play off the strengths of active-duty and reserves and in the end have the best maintained equipment and aircraft.”