Better Together - ANG Command Chief Speaks on Total Force Integration

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sarah M. McClanahan
  • Air National Guard

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD -- Command Chief Master Sgt. Maurice L. Williams, the 13th command chief master sergeant of the Air National Guard, participated in the Senior Enlisted Leadership Panel segment of a Total Force Integration Symposium on March 22, 2022, at the General Jacob E. Smart Center on Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

Williams participated in the moderated panel alongside Command Chief Master Sgt. Timothy C. White Jr., the command chief master sergeant of Air Force Reserve Command, and Command Chief Master Sgt. Brian P. Kruzelnick, the command chief master sergeant of Air Mobility Command. Together they discussed the challenges, successes, and coming initiatives affecting Total Force Airmen and fielded questions from more than 1,700 virtual attendees.

“It's always exciting to get the opportunity to speak to the masses, to share our opinion and see how we can make things better,” said Williams. “We have some challenges, but that's what drives us to continue to be strong leaders.”

The total force integration concept leverages the U.S. military's ability to work with all components and full-spectrum talents to strengthen the ability to deter and defeat threats. The integration of the diverse experiences and skillsets of not just the regular Air Force, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve, but every branch and component creates a total force that is efficient, competitive, and lethal.

Total force integration became the standard about 15 years ago with the full integration of the regular Air Force, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve components in exercises and contingency operations around the world.

However, integration is a part of the National Guard’s everyday operations as Airmen and Soldiers work alongside each other in support of domestic operations in their home states and overseas with service members of all components.

The Air National Guard has 108,300 Guard Airmen representing 21% of the total Air Force, flying 20% of the aircraft in the total Air Force, and operating on 7% of the total Air Force budget. As leaders, it’s critical to ensure each Airman is ready and can operate in any environment.

“Leadership is leadership and we have to provide,” said Williams. “What we need to do is be open and learn from [those in] the regular Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard. You have to be able to receive that information so you understand the difference and then you continue to lead.”

Williams emphasizes that total force integration falls into one of his three focus areas for the Air National Guard - Ready Forces. Regardless of component, there should be no difference in the quality of an Airman’s work and they should each be given the same opportunities for growth and development.

“The way we present the information may be different when it comes to enlisted development … but I think we all should be able to get the same criteria and substance out of that information,” said Williams. “When we go downrange [we are all the same] so we all should be developed at the same level.”

What’s unique about the contributions the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve components bring to the total force is the skills and expertise of service members’ civilian capacities. The two-way exchange of skills and information is a practice that mutually benefits total force and the communities they serve.

“It goes both ways, what individuals from the civilian side bring to the military and what we give them to take that to the civilian sector,” said Williams.

The mutual benefit of this two-way exchange of talent was especially evident throughout 2021 and 2022 with the more than 10,000 Guard Airmen who were on duty on any given day supporting Combatant Commander requirements overseas, on-call defending the homeland, and providing support to COVID-19, natural disaster, and civil unrest response operations.

“As we move into the future … we need everyone to be more diverse to match the needs of [the force],” said Williams.

In an ever-evolving environment shifting away from more than 20 years of non-conventional warfare to focusing on near-peer competitors, the contribution of Guard Airmen’s extensive skills and experiences are needed for the success of the total forces. Integrating those abilities is key to defending the homeland, deterring aggressing, and defeating our enemies.