When the call went out for help in Haiti, Reservists once again stepped forward
By Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr. , Commander, Air Force Reserve Command
/ Published March 23, 2010
Citizen Airman/Apr 2010 -- As we head into spring, it is clear that 2010 continues to be a pivotal year for the Air Force Reserve. There has never been a better time to be a Reservist. We're on the leading edge of every mission area, and our people are recognized as world-class professionals. I am very proud of what we have accomplished and the outstanding way our Citizen Airmen perform every day around the world.
Right now, we have more than 7,000 Reservists supporting or deploying in overseas contingency operations. In January, we had an overwhelming number of volunteers step forward from many units across our command in support of Operation Unified Response in Haiti. This resulted in hundreds of missions flown, thousands of passengers and patients transported, and tons of cargo moved by air.
Reserve C-130 aircrews were among the first responders on the ground in Port-au-Prince within 24 hours of the earthquake. This quick response was not a lucky coincidence but the result of 24/7, 365-days-a-year rotational operations based out of Puerto Rico since 1977. Called Operation Coronet Oak, our Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard have primarily led this ongoing mission for more than 30 years. This predictable rotational mission plays to our inherent strengths. It allows our Reservists to perform real-world flying on a part-time basis while still meeting their obligations to their full-time civilian employers, families and communities.
Another major contribution from our command was the use of Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., as a hub of support operations. We've found that Reserve installations such as Homestead play a vital role in our nation's defense and our ability to react quickly to emergencies. I could not be more proud of all our men and women who answered the call and provided life-saving assistance and help to the people of Haiti.
A number of trends continue to influence dependence on Air Force Reserve forces to meet the strategic and operational demands of our nation's defense. In February, our military's way ahead was shaped by the release of the President's budget, the Quadrennial Defense Review report, congressional hearings and the release of our posture statement to Congress.
The secretary of the Air Force has noted that funding is a key issue of concern, and we should expect to operate in a more fiscally constrained environment. As the Department of Defense programs compete inside a tight budget, the integration of regular, Reserve and Guard component forces continues to work well.
Because of this close integration and interoperability, it makes good sense to take a holistic view and ensure all three Air Force components are modernized accordingly. I am dedicated to ensuring our Reservists have the best training and equipment available to them as they provide for our nation's defense.
The Quadrennial Defense Review is aimed at advancing two main objectives: rebalancing our military's capabilities, and reforming our institutions and processes to support the urgent needs of our people in harm's way. With our nation at war, we're engaging with four ongoing strategies: prevail in today's war, prevent and deter conflict, prepare to defeat adversaries in a wide range of contingencies, and preserve and enhance the all-volunteer force.
President Obama has authorized the mobilization of the Reserve to ensure we have enough people to support everything we have going on around the world. It is awe-inspiring how many Reservists step forward in times like these with their hand in the air saying, "Pick me!" This is what they train for. I have never seen our troops' morale any higher than it is today. And the dedication and service before self of our Reservists never fail to humble and astound me.
As the president, Congress and DOD leadership move forward, we will continue to advocate for a military that takes advantage of our cost-effective practices so that our nation continues to have the best Air Force in the world. We must remain tier-one ready for day-to-day continuous operations and be first and foremost a strategic Reserve -- with the strength to surge, to fight our nation's battles, to alleviate suffering and save lives at a moment's notice -- anytime, anywhere.