Active duty, Guard, Reserve transforming into 'Total Force'

  • Published
  • By Lt Col Robert Williamson
  • 5th Flying Training Squadron
Many changes are taking place in the military.
One that catches my attention as commander of the 5th Flying Training Squadron is the transformation of the military towards a "Total Force" concept.
This topic has generated much discussion in the Guard and Reserve circles in the last few years. Since commencing the Global War On Terrorism following the Sept. 11 attacks, the dramatically increased demand for our military's presence around the world has extended to the Guard and Reserve forces just as it has the active duty.
The ever-increasing demand on our military forces has had a profound effect on the Air Force Reservist. The reality of life for a part-time, traditional Reservist is the military is only part of their work and life commitment. The other part of the equation is some type of civilian employment -- whether that is as a small business owner, employee of a large corporation, hourly wage earner, etc. As part-time Reservists are activated, those civilian jobs are left behind. This affects not only the Reservist, it also reaches beyond the fence of the base and affects their employers as well. The Reservist expects, is prepared for, and gladly accepts this responsibility as part of his or her commitment to the Air Force Reserve and the United States. Fortunately, the civilian community has provided the support required to continue to allow the Reservists to contribute to the total mission. The trick is how to make it better for all involved.
As part of this transformation, the active duty and Reserve forces are constantly moving towards a more integrated, cohesive state. Using Reservists as instructor pilots is part of that change. This associated concept has been very successful, not only in pilot training but also in the airlift community. More recently, this integrated concept has expanded into the fighter world as well. Squadrons just like ours here are beginning to work side by side with their active duty counterparts at fighter bases around the nation.
Pilot training is the mission at Vance Air Force Base -- "Total Force" is our mindset. Looking at Team Vance, we have Army (security forces), Navy, Air Force and Marine personnel encompassing active duty, Reserve and Guard organizations. Civil servants and contractors round out the mix. Vance AFB covers the spectrum and is also the only Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training base. We not only train Air Force pilots, we also train Navy and Marine Corps aviators. And yes, we also train Guard and Reserve pilots as well. "We" got it all and "we" do it the best as Team Vance, period! From the wing commander to the newest Airman, "Total Force" is in our blood and being an Air Expeditionary warrior is a way of life.
One of my flight commanders, Lt Col Dan Crawford, recently attended a leadership conference sponsored by the Air Force Reserve. One of the seminar topics was "transformation." The discussion centered around the upcoming changes taking place, one of which is integration. Following the meeting, Colonel Crawford talked to the presenter to ask specifically how these changes will affect our operations at Vance AFB. The presenter first clarified that he is in the associated instructor pilot program supporting pilot training. He then responded, in effect, to disregard ... Team Vance is already there. Yes Team Vance, we are already there. Thanks for all the support!