Reserve Leaders Advise Against Proposed Air Guard Merger
By Air Force Col. Bob Thompson
Air Force Reserve
WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2013 Merging the Air Force Reserve with the Air National Guard would create little value and would cause numerous adverse impacts, detracting from the broader goal of improving the Air Force structure, Air Force Reserve leaders have told members of the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force.
The commissioners are looking at the Air Force's structure to determine if and how it should be changed to meet future missions and funding challenges, and their report and recommendations are due to the president by Feb. 1.
"I believe the nation benefits from the synergistic value of a three-component Air Force consisting of the active duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard," said Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, chief of Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command, during his Oct. 24 testimony
Members of the commission interviewed senior leaders — from past and present, active duty, Guard and reserve — to review proposals to integrate the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard into one reserve component.
"I do not believe combining the [Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard] is beneficial or value-added to our nation," Jackson told the commission, noting that such a merger has been discussed many times during the Air Force’s history, but never has materialized.
The commissioners also met with the top enlisted leaders of each of the three components and asked about strengths, capabilities, improvements, shortfalls, resilience, participation, recruiting, retention and morale.
"We have met our recruiting goal for the 13th consecutive year," Command Chief Master Sgt. Cameron B. Kirksey, Air Force Reserve Command’s command chief, said during his Oct. 25 testimony. "Our retention rate has averaged 88 percent for the past seven years. Morale continues to be high, and our airmen want to serve more than ever.
"We are concerned with the current budget environment and the effects of sequestration," he continued. "From furloughs and paycheck losses, to the stress caused by financial uncertainty, the resiliency of the force is being tested, with the long-term impacts yet to be fully understood."
Regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve airmen work together around the world as a team in air, space and cyberspace. Today's total force consists of about 327,600 active-duty airmen in the Regular Air Force along with 105,400 Air National Guardsmen and 70,880 Air Force Reserve airmen actively serving in the Selected Reserve. The Air Force Reserve also maintains a strategic depth of more than 790,000 standby or nonparticipating reservists and retirees who can be called up for national emergencies.
"We deliver our diverse portfolio of capability through air, space and cyberspace as a federal reserve, always in Title 10 status, whether at home or abroad," Kirksey said. The Air Force Reserve always serves in Title 10 status as the federal member of the Air Reserve Component, Jackson noted.
This is the third time Jackson has spoken to the commission. In previous testimony, he told the commission about an analytical simulation tool called the "Individual Cost Assessment Model," which can determine an airman's overall life-cycle cost in all three components.
Led by retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Dennis M. McCarthy, a former assistant secretary of Defense for reserve affairs, the commission has visited and interviewed airmen across the country. The vice chair is Erin Conaton, a former undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness who also served as undersecretary of the Air Force.