From the Top: Holloman association is latest in long line of Total Force Integration successes

Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr., Air Force Reserve Command commander and chief of Air Force Reserve.

Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr., Air Force Reserve Command commander and chief of Air Force Reserve.

Citizen Airman/June 2010 -- I am extremely proud of our command's outstanding progress in building new associate units that are on the leading edge and expected to be more cost-effective and efficient for our Air Force.

This issue of Citizen Airman (Page 16) features the stand-up of our new F-22 fighter associate unit at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Also, the story announces plans for our Reservists and regular Air Force Airmen to share the MQ-1 and MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft missions at Holloman.

Called "Total Force Integration," there are more than 100 initiatives under way that involve the regular Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. More than 50 of these feature our units and Reservists.

Although the big push for Total Force Integration began during the 2005 base realignment and closure process, the Air Force Reserve has a long history with associate units. The very first was a C-141 airlifter unit started at Norton AFB, Calif., on March 25, 1968. The success of this model unit bred many more such units in Military Airlift Command, the forerunner of today's Air Mobility Command.

However, these partnerships are not just about using the same equipment. Associate units are an effort to have equal partners playing roles that leverage their strengths and find the right balance between reserve and regular components, developing better capabilities and better uses of our Total Force resources.

"Classic associate" units are those in which the regular Air Force has principal responsibility for the aircraft and equipment infrastructure and shares operation and maintenance duties with the Reserve. The opposite is true in "active associate" units, with the Reserve having principal responsibility for the aircraft and equipment and sharing operation and maintenance duties with the regular Air Force.

And then there are our Reserve associations with the Air National Guard at Niagara Falls International Airport Air Reserve Station, N.Y., and Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. These are air reserve component associations, with the Reserve maintaining principal responsibility for the aircraft -- C-130s at Niagara and KC-135s at Tinker -- that capitalize on and utilize the vast experience of both organizations to form a lean, effective combat force.

As these units continue to develop, our lessons learned team is measuring their performance. Through the use of analytical tools, our command is developing new insights into the proper configuration of associate units.

As a repository of airpower expertise, our Citizen Airmen are among the most experienced professionals in the Air Force. Our officers average about 18 years of experience, while our enlisted members have been in the service an average of 13 years. That is compared to 11 years and eight years for regular Air Force officers and enlisted members, respectively.

In fact, roughly 64 percent of our Citizen Airmen are veterans from regular active-duty service. Because of this wealth of experience, Citizen Airmen are ideal mentors in an associate unit for the often younger regular Air Force Airmen.

Citizen Airmen provide excellent continuity to associate units. "Live locally, serve globally" is often the hallmark of Reserve service. Reservists are embedded in the fabric of American life. They often pursue full-time civilian careers in their communities and hometowns. Their employment mirrors our society and includes jobs such as neighborhood police officers and firefighters, teachers, doctors, lawyers and many other civilian specialties.

When Citizen Airmen are not training or performing operational missions, they provide valuable services in local communities while always maintaining the same readiness as regular Air Force Airmen. This full-time readiness effectively supports our national defense.

This is an exciting time to be in the Air Force. Our Reservists are engaged in all Air Force missions and working with the latest leading-edge equipment. I congratulate the men and women of our new F-22 fighter unit at Holloman and look forward to the new pages of history they and all of our associate units will inspire in the years to come.