From the Top: AFRC reacts to budget pressures created by global war on terrorism

Lt. Gen. John A. Bradley

Lt. Gen. John A. Bradley

WASHINGTON -- You have likely seen in the popular press that there is immense pressure on the federal budget. The global war on terrorism is very expensive, and it comes at a time when we are trying to transform our military into a more lethal, agile and streamlined force.

There are three primary forces affecting how we plan and organize for the future. The first is base realignment and closure, where we were directed to close one base and five flying wings. Second, Total Force integration is the Air Force plan to optimize how the active duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard are organized. Thirdly, the Department of Defense directed a reduction of 7,744 funded personnel positions and $156 million in the Air Force Reserve. This was our portion of a total Air Force reduction of 57,429 positions and $2.5 billion. All the while, the Air Force is trying to replace its aging aircraft with a smaller, yet more capable, fleet.

What this means to our Airmen is that the Reserve will be a smaller force with a sharper focus on operational capability. Our Air Force Reserve strategic planners have been wrestling with the difficult task of meeting these requirements, especially the reductions of our highly experienced people. Air reserve technician, active Guard Reserve, traditional reserve and individual mobilization augmentee positions were identified for reduction to meet this challenge.

Many of our traditional and full-time Reservists will be forced to commute, move or retrain in order to participate. Major commands will continue to maintain a robust cadre of experienced IMAs who fill critical positions, while others will transition to equivalent participating Individual Ready Reserve (Category E) positions. Category E IMAs, however, may continue to be paid, depending on military personnel account availability.

Additionally, there will be a variety of opportunities available for all categories of Reservists as mission areas move, grow and develop during the transformation process. We will continue to seek additional assistance from Congress for those members experiencing the stress of transition.

The 21st-century Air Force transformation is now, and the Air Force Reserve is an integral part of the solution with new missions and critical support to the Air Force. The actions that are occurring will have varying degrees of impact on nearly everyone in the Reserve. However, when they are complete, we will be a more capable, accessible and relevant force.

As I travel around the Air Force Reserve, I am continually im- pressed with both your dedication and professionalism. Additionally, your perseverance and ability to adapt and overcome are key strengths that will enable us to meet current and future challenges as we continue to engage as unrivaled wingmen.