ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Heroes of the Air Force Reserve:
September marks my second anniversary in command. As a command team, the command chief and I continue to be amazed with your accomplishments despite every challenge that has emerged over the past year.
When the nation needed us to provide medical care for our fellow Americans, we activated more than 1,700 Reserve Citizen Airmen in support of the COVID-19 operational response. Within 48 hours of receiving the request, our team was able to send medical personnel to the points of greatest need in New York and New Jersey. Our airlift forces were also integral to transporting personal protective equipment and ventilators globally, saving countless lives.
In the face of the pandemic, you have not blinked or missed a step in carrying out your duties. As a case in point, the “Hurricane Hunters” of the 403rd Wing conducted dispersed operations from alternate operating locations when Hurricanes Laura and Sally and Tropical Storm Marco threatened Keesler Air Force Base.
Both of these examples validate the need to continue working toward our strategic priorities: prioritizing strategic depth and accelerating readiness, developing resilient leaders, and reforming the organization.
When we laid out these priorities, we also developed a four-phased approach. During my first year in command, we socialized these priorities and began fixing broken glass, in order to make your lives better. This past year, we continued to refine processes and work on reforms to improve support to your units. In the next year, we will accelerate our actions, setting them up for sustainment over the long term. As we step forward into the accelerate phase, I want to provide you a review of each of these priorities.
Prioritizing strategic depth and accelerating readiness means that we will meet our homeland defense, nuclear and conventional deterrence, and counter violent extremist obligations laid out in the National Defense Strategy. To meet these obligations, we must ensure that the Department of Defense can fully leverage the Air Force Reserve. We will continue to ensure that we hire, train and retain our most vital asset: our Airmen. We will maximize flexibility by enabling telework options for unit training assemblies where appropriate. To optimize individual readiness, we are exploring telehealth and other nontraditional modalities and are employing additional full-time medical support staff to decrease wait times and work medical cases.
Developing resilient leaders requires us to further develop strong, adaptable and confident Airmen who are able to build trust in their units, lead their teams independently and take smart risks to generate combat power for the American people. To that end, we are continuously updating our Professional Development Center courses to ensure that we are equipping your leadership with the right skills to successfully navigate the complex strategic environment. We are also working to enhance our resiliency programs by investing in more full-time command chiefs, first sergeants and chaplains. Finally, we are revitalizing and transforming the Key Spouse program by incorporating best practices from across the command to better support all Airmen and their families.
We have seen the value of resilient leaders across the command during the pandemic. When the crisis began, Chief White and I made preserving decision space for commanders one of our top priorities. We realized the impossibility of issuing “one-size-fits-all” guidance. We had absolute confidence that our unit command teams would best be able to tailor preventative measures due to their having the clearest picture of their units and populations, missions and the local circumstances. Maintaining decision space allowed your local command teams to continue mission essential operations while preserving the force. Resilient leadership can be further empowered by having processes optimized to support those leading in the field, hence the continued need to reform the organization.
As we continue to reform the organization, we will call upon one of the greatest strengths of the Air Force Reserve: the diverse experience that Reservists bring from their civilian employers. These experiences help us to infuse best practices from industry, especially in areas like talent management, financial operations, medical readiness, space and cyberspace.
Each of these strategic priorities pursues an end state in which Reserve Citizen Airmen are expertly trained and ready to execute their mission while being exceptionally led by resilient leadership teams that relentlessly remove barriers. To that end, we look at making each Citizen Airman’s experience better, through examining and reengineering those key processes where we can make impactful improvement. As always, thank you for everything you do. ■