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Active-duty squadron takes initiative to new heights

TALLIL AIR BASE, Iraq -- A Predator from the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron here lands Jan. 20.  The Predator is a remotely piloted vehicle that provides real-time surveillance imagery supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.  (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Suzanne M. Jenkins)

TALLIL AIR BASE, Iraq -- A Predator from the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron here lands Jan. 20. The Predator is a remotely piloted vehicle that provides real-time surveillance imagery supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Suzanne M. Jenkins)

TALLIL AIR BASE, Iraq -- Senior Airman Robert Mascorro marshals an RQ-1 Predator aircraft here Jan. 20.  The Predator is a remotely piloted vehicle that provides real-time surveillance imagery supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Airman Mascorro is assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Suzanne M. Jenkins)

TALLIL AIR BASE, Iraq -- Senior Airman Robert Mascorro marshals an RQ-1 Predator aircraft here Jan. 20. The Predator is a remotely piloted vehicle that provides real-time surveillance imagery supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Airman Mascorro is assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Suzanne M. Jenkins)

BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq -- Airman 1st Class Chris Korenaga checks the camera system of an RQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle.  The Predator conducts aerial reconnaissance and patrols around the base's perimeter.  Airman Korenaga is a crew chief with the 46th Expeditionary Aerial Reconnaissance Squadron and deployed from the 757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cohen Young)

BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq -- Airman 1st Class Chris Korenaga checks the camera system of an RQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle. The Predator conducts aerial reconnaissance and patrols around the base's perimeter. Airman Korenaga is a crew chief with the 46th Expeditionary Aerial Reconnaissance Squadron and deployed from the 757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cohen Young)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- A reservist made Air Force history Dec. 17 when he became commander of the 11th Reconnaissance Squadron at Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field, Nev.

Lt. Col. John Breeden is the first Air Force Reserve officer to command a permanent, active-duty operational unit, according to Air Force Reserve Command officials. He replaced Lt. Col. Michael Keaton.

The change of command reinforces the Future Total Force initiative announced by Air Force leaders in December. Colonel Breeden’s command of the 11th RS is one step in implementing this initiative.

“This is a process that’s taken place over a few years,” said Lt. Gen. John A. Bradley, AFRC commander, after the change of command ceremony. “The air reserve components are involved in every aspect of the Air Force mission. This is just another step in that evolution.”

The 11th RS trains pilots and sensor operators for the RQ/MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle program.

“Our Predator crews employ lethal firepower to protect and defend our forces on the ground” as part of the global war on terrorism, said Col. Mark Morris, 57th Operations Group commander. “Some of the graduates (of the 11th RS) fly combat missions over Iraq within 48 hours of graduating.”

Many Predator missions that take place over Iraq and Afghanistan are flown from Nellis.

Colonel Breeden being named commander of the 11th RS is an example of the Air Force’s resolve to more closely integrate active-duty and Reserve forces, Colonel Morris said.

“When I took over the operations group 19 months ago, I was told I was getting a full-time Reservist,” Colonel Morris said. “I was quickly impressed with (Colonel Breeden) and wanted to put him on the squadron commander list.”

Colonel Breeden served as an A-10 pilot before separating from the active force. After Sept. 11, 2001, he went back into the Air Force as a full-time Reservist.

“I didn’t seek out this job,” the colonel said, “but I sought to serve my country.”

In his efforts to serve, he has set the example for Future Total Force integration.

“What we’re trying to do here is integrate the Air National Guard and Reserve to put the best people in the best positions to move forward the future of the Air Force,” Colonel Breeden said.

The ramifications of the change of command will be felt beyond the gates of Indian Springs.

“I think we’ll see more integration in the future,” General Bradley said.

Integrating the active force and the Reserve benefits the Air Force and its Airmen.

“Most of the air reserve component Airmen have spent years in the Air Force and then entered the Reserve or Air National Guard,” General Bradley said. “We don’t want to lose all those great people and their talents.”

Maintaining the experience of the Guard and Reserve members is a large benefit of the FTF initiative, said Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, Air Force deputy chief of staff for plans and programs.

“The organizational concepts (of the FTF) will allow us to maximize the combat capability of our equipment and balance experience levels of our people, improving their training and effectiveness,” said General Wood during a press conference about the new initiative Dec. 1.

“Furthermore, they will allow us to capitalize on the rich experience of our reserve components and the quick deployability of the active duty in both emerging and enduring missions.”

(Sergeant Stagner is assigned to the Air Warfare Center public affairs office at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.)

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