From The Top: Reflections from a memorable first year

Citizen Airman/Aug. 2017 -- As I reflect on my first year as your chief and commander, I have to admit I am still overwhelmed by the honor and humbled by the privilege to serve you and your families. I wake up every morning in awe of your commitment to your families and this country! I am grateful to be able to serve beside the best Airmen in the world.

This first year has been marked by some Air Force Reserve “firsts” in our history. Airmen from the 908th Airlift Wing planned and executed the first-ever Reserve Partnership Program visit to Romania. The 419th Fighter Wing was the Air Force Reserve’s first unit to reach operational capability in the F-35 Lightning II. We saw exciting advancements in our fleet such as the 413th Flight Test Group’s 514th Flight Test Squadron historic flight of the first A-10 Thunderbolt modified for weather observation.

And although not firsts, as always our Reserve Citizen Airmen stood ready to protect our homeland, extinguishing 16 raging wildfires utilizing more than 1.3 million pounds of retardant, spraying more than 191,000 acres with 79,000 gallons of pesticide to control disease and vegetation proliferation, and flying 135 hurricane missions with approximately 1,000 hours monitoring weather conditions for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

We also culminated 26 years of continuous operational support to combatant commands around the globe.

The Reserve Force Generation Center developed cutting-edge tracking tools for Reserve leaders to maintain visibility of our 6,000 members who, daily, are on active-duty orders supporting overseas and stateside operations.

Reserve Citizen Airmen performed more than 4.4 million man-days and filled more than 3,200 air expeditionary force taskings providing global vigilance, global reach and global power.

Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance analysts contributed more than 240,000 combat support hours and provided critical imagery to aid several humanitarian missions. Our space professionals supported worldwide operations across the spectrum, ranging from tracking and providing warnings for 28 storms to tracking more than 23,000 objects in orbit and answering more than 3,400 support requests.

More than 4,000 total force cyber operators engaged in combatant and major commands. Reserve Citizen Airmen flew more than 7,000 sorties and 32,000 hours delivering more than 36,000 passengers, and more than 34,000 tons of cargo around the globe.

Our fighters, bombers and remotely piloted aircraft conducted combat and theater security operations around the world daily supporting our joint and coalition partners. Remotely piloted aircraft flew more than 17,000 sorties across four Reserve squadrons; fighters and bombers flew more than 1,900 sorties and more than 6,000 hours supporting combat forces employing more than 100,000 pounds of ordnance. To say we are engaged is an understatement!

As we reflect on the past year, we must remember our Airmen who we have lost. We must keep them and their families in our thoughts. We must remain firmly focused on readiness, stay aligned with Air Force priorities, and approach our future with the lens of preserving, building and shaping our Air Force Reserve.

As we continue to integrate with Air Force and joint partners, we must ensure we enable success in the full spectrum of conflict, whenever and wherever we are needed.

Thank you for remaining an integrated, flexible and combat-ready force as we deliver a diverse capability to ensure our nation’s defense. Your efforts provide critical capabilities to our joint partners and continued support to national security. Thank you for holding dear your service to this great nation and to your families.

(Editor’s note: You can access the Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command historian’s Air Force Reserve 2016 Year in Review online at http://www.afrc.af.mil/Portals/87/documents/AFR-YIR-2016.pdf?ver=2017-04-28-124554-870.)