SecAF and CSAF discuss changes to active, reserve mix to Congress

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Richard A. Williams, Jr.
  • Air Force Public Affairs Agency
The Air Force's two top leaders discussed planned adjustments to the Air Force's active and reserve components during a congressional hearing here March 14.

During testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Defense, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said the new defense strategic guidance led the service to propose changes in its force structure as part of its fiscal 2013 budget request.

"Because force structure changes have a ripple effect on manpower needs, our budget proposal calls for a reduction of 9,900 Air Force military personnel," Donley said

By component, this amounts to reductions of 3,900 active-duty, 5,100 Air National Guard, and 900 Air Force Reserve personnel, he said.

"[Manpower and force structure] changes were prompted by the strategic guidance we received that asked us to reorient geographically...and recognizing that the overall size of the ground forces is going down," Donley said.

Air Force officials analyzed their fighter and mobility forces to develop the right balance between active and reserve component capabilities, he said, focusing not just on maintaining a strategic reserve but also on better integrating the active and reserve components.

Schwartz said one of the principle considerations in balancing the force was determining the appropriate activity level for each component for both rotational and surge contingency requirements.

"With a smaller force you have to assure that you can spread that activity level properly across the entire inventory," Schwartz said. "If we overuse any of these components, especially when the economy turns up, we will end up in a situation where active duty will not stay with us, and on the guard and reserve side, employers and family members will see the activity level as too active duty-like."

Therefore, Air Force officials looked to balance the components such that the active duty would have a deploy-to-dwell ratio of one-to-two, while the reserve components would have a ratio of not less than one-to-four, he said.

"So this was trying to get the mix right so that we could maintain the anticipated activity level without overusing either of the components," Schwartz said.

Donley said the Air Force's intent is to be a superb force at any size, able to maintain the agility and flexibility inherent to the service's airpower capabilities and ready to engage a full range of contingencies and threats.

"As a result of the proposals we are making here, we will be the size of the Air Force in 1947...on the active duty side," he said. "So as we go forward together, the reserve and active components must be more closely integrated, and we can't get either side of this out of balance going forward."