Fiscal austerity requires leveraging 'total force'

  • Published
  • By Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, Chief of Air Force Reserve Lt. Gen. Charles Stenner and Air National Guard Director Lt. Gen. Bud Wyatt
In wartime and peacetime, the total force construct is virtually seamless, with Guardsmen and Reserve service members who are indistinguishable from their active-component peers. Our recent air operations in Libya are but the latest example.

The ability of our Guardsmen and Reservists to deploy on short notice and seamlessly integrate with the active force is unique and was absolutely vital in Libya. One critical reason the total force works so well in the Air Force is that many Guardsmen and Reservists are subject matter experts who work in related fields -- such as pilots and aircraft mechanics -- in their civilian jobs.

Given the fiscal austerity that lies ahead, we recognize the need for balance and maximum efficiency in the Air Force. In order to meet future challenges, the Air Force remains committed to a total force approach because the solution is, by necessity, a total force solution. We know that if we gut the Guard and Reserve, we gut the entire Air Force because they represent a substantial portion of our overall capacity and capability.

Air Force restructuring therefore will occur across the entire force, consistent with future trends and potential threats, the national security strategy, and our collective priorities and capabilities.

Such restructuring requires tough choices, and communication is critical if we are to achieve the "win-win" outcomes we all desire. To that end, there was a particularly concerted effort to work together in these austere times; the level of participation was unprecedented. Across-the-board involvement by senior active, Guard and Reserve Air Force leaders and state adjutants general demonstrated everyone's commitment to this important endeavor.

Additionally, the three of us work closely together in Air Force budget deliberations. All of these efforts are aimed at ensuring transparency and meaningful senior leader discussions on active, Reserve and Guard force structure, manning and institutional support.

When all is said and done, two things are certain. First, all three components -- active, Guard and Reserve -- are going to be smaller, consistent with the new defense strategy and the Budget Control Act of 2011's fiscal limits. Second and most importantly, we will remain a superb fighting force because our people -- your total force Airmen -- remain committed to excellence. The nation deserves, and rightly demands, no less. By maximizing the potential of all aspects of our total force, we will maintain the Air Force's readiness and effectiveness throughout this period of fiscal austerity and well into the future.