From the Top: The Strategic Agility of the Air Force Reserve

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

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

Citizen Airman/Oct. 2014 -- I'm often asked, "What is the future of the Air Force Reserve?" Part of the answer lies in having a strategy that provides the path to where we need to go.

The Air Force recently published a new 30-year strategy: "America's Air Force: A Call to the Future." This strategy states, "The Air Force must aggressively pursue a path toward institutional strategic agility," with "agility" capturing the attributes of flexibility, adaptability and responsiveness. Here is how I think these attributes apply to the future of the Air Force Reserve.

Flexibility. The Air Force Reserve's flexibility is derived from the operational capability, strategic depth and surge capacity we provide for our nation's defense. Citizen Airmen enhance this flexibility by serving as a majority part-time force, ready to flex to full-time support when the mission dictates. Combatant commanders depend on this flexibility to deliver war fighter effects in ever-changing environments. As we look to the future, the Air Force Reserve will leverage our inherent flexibility to evolve in rapidly changing mission areas, including space, cyberspace, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. 

Adaptability. This attribute is also a characteristic of Citizen Airmen. Education and training prepare our members to adapt to challenging situations. One area that is always challenging is the deployment process. The new air expeditionary force construct, scheduled to begin this month, was redesigned to increase predictability for the member. The goal is to deploy larger numbers of Airmen from the same unit versus deploying individuals. Additionally, the stabilized mobilization battle rhythm will allow for increased notice to employers and family. (For more information on the new AEF construct, see the story on Page 22.) 

Another area for improved adaptability is through continuum of service. This concept refers to the ability of our Airmen to move between the three components (active duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard) as well as between the different statuses. By addressing obstacles in legislation, policy, organization and education, the goal is to make it easier for Airmen to serve, no matter the component. Efforts are under way now to improve continuum of service in the near future.

Responsiveness. Being responsive is a demonstration of readiness, always a focus of mine. The readiness of the Air Force Reserve is dependent upon the readiness of our Citizen Airmen. By being trained and inspected to the same standards as our active-duty partners, our members demonstrate they can respond effectively to any crisis. Readiness is foundational to the Air Force Reserve's ability to serve for our nation's defense, both today and tomorrow.

As the Air Force and Air Force Reserve look to the future, the foundation to success will always lay with our Airmen, which is why I say thanks for all you do!

(Editor's Note: To read more about strategic agility and to download "Call to the Future," go to http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/ 486897/strategic-agility-is-the-future-of-the-air-force.aspx.)