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From the Top: A Hedge Against Uncertainty

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

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

Citizen Airman/April 2015 -- Each year I provide a written testimony to Congress on behalf of the Air Force Reserve. This testimony explains where we are and where we would like to go in the future. This month I want to share with you some highlights included in this year's statement.

As most of you know, the Air Force Reserve provides integrated and flexible operational capability to combatant commanders worldwide. We are part of every Air Force core mission function and perform the same missions as our active-duty partners, with the exception of U-2 reconnaissance and intercontinental ballistic missile missions. Last year our Citizen Airmen completed almost 500,000 man-days in support of Department of Defense requirements and filled more than 4,000 deployed air expeditionary force taskings. On any given day, there are approximately 5,000 of you mobilized and serving globally.

This past year you also "deployed at home" as remotely piloted aircraft crews and maintainers, space operators, cyber warriors, and intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance experts. In 2014, our RPA crews flew more than 18,000 sorties and provided over 40,000 combat support hours. The 655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group provided a total of 82,530 hours of ISR support to our Total Force Integration partners. The Air Force Reserve handled between 20 percent and 40 percent of the daily operational mission load across all space missions. You provided crucial continuity and surge capacity for critical Air Force missions.

It is imperative that we continue to look to the future to ensure we maintain a combat-ready and viable force. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III have both testified about the important role the Reserve will play in the future of the three-component Air Force, along with our active-duty and Air National Guard counterparts. Our Air Force Reserve continues to focus on the four key areas of mission, manpower, modernization and military construction. Focusing our efforts allows us to ensure we are ready to provide daily operational capability, strategic depth and surge capacity to our nation. We are an effective and efficient way to retain experience and maintain capacity for our Air Force.

We must continue to balance the demands of today with the challenges of tomorrow. We will focus on preparing for an uncertain and fast-paced future. Our job is to continually evolve to meet the needs of the nation. I agree with Secretary James when she stated, "I would expect that we will come up with additional missions, additional capabilities, that we would ask our Guard and Reserve to assume in the future." It makes sense to grow in areas where we can leverage your deep experience, both military and civilian.

You provide critical capabilities and indispensable capacity to the Total Force team. The Air Force Reserve remains an integrated, flexible and combat-ready force capable of supporting our national security objectives. You stand ready as a hedge against uncertainty, protecting this great nation from the threats of today and tomorrow. Thanks for all you do!