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From the Top: Significant in the Past, Critical to the Future

Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, Air Force Reserve Command commander

Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, Air Force Reserve Command commander

Citizen Airman/June 2015 -- On 14 April, we celebrated the 67th anniversary of the Air Force Reserve. This milestone allowed us to reflect on some of the great leaders who have gone before us -- airpower giants like Col. Jackie Cochran, Gen. James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle, Brig. Gen. Jimmy Stewart, Brig. Gen. Charles Lindbergh, Maj. Gen. Betty Mullis and Capt. Ronald Reagan. These men and women were innovative and bold leaders who made significant contributions to our Air Force in the past, but today I want to talk about why our Citizen Airmen are critical to the future.

As we look to the future, we understand that the demand for air, space and cyber is not decreasing. Not only are we conducting combat operations, but we are continuing to respond to emerging crises, like the recent devastation caused by an earthquake in Nepal.

Unfortunately, financial constraints and force-shaping initiatives have limited the ability of our Air Force to meet all of our national security requirements. According to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, the gap between requirements and capacity creates risk for our nation. The Air Force Reserve is a hedge against that risk.

In order to combat that risk, we are working on strengthening and building our Reserve force. This year we are growing our end strength by 2,100 Citizen Airmen, which will allow us to support current and emerging missions. Also, we are continuing work on Total Force Integration efforts with the active component and the Air National Guard. This growth and integration will increase our operational capability and surge capacity.

Unfortunately, in an era of shrinking budgets and growing requirements, increases in manpower and Total Force Integration are not enough to keep our Air Force strong. We must also continue to be an innovative force. Historically, the Air Force has leveraged technology to defeat our adversaries, and with constrained resources, we know continued innovation is going to be required to defeat our future enemies. Our dependence on technology as a country and as a force is going to continue to grow. Our job as Citizen Airmen is to be ready to respond to these ever-changing threats.

One advantage of the Air Force Reserve is the ability to leverage our civilian experiences. You can often apply the skills and concepts that make you successful in your civilian career to your military specialty. Take time to look for ways to improve our processes as you continue to grow in your own career field. Not only will innovation allow us to win future wars, it will increase our capacity and strengthen our force. I challenge you to find and implement innovative solutions to ensure we remain the best Air Force in the world.

Going forward, our Air Force is going to rely more, not less, on our National Guard and Reserve forces. We believe innovation is essential for the Air Force Reserve to remain a combat-ready and cost-effective force. Remember that you are critical to the future of the Air Force Reserve and to the future of our nation. Thanks for all you do!