JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. - Air Force senior leaders from the RegAF, Reserve, Guard, and Department civilians recently participated in a Department of the Air Force Total Force Integration (TFI) symposium, discussing how all components meet the demands of the total force.
During the four-day event held March 14 -17, more than 3,700 Airmen, (RegAF, Guard and Reserve) Guardians, and civilians attended the symposium. Participants learned how the Air Force is moving forward on strategic initiatives and leveraging the Total Force to support the warfighters. Participants, either virtual or in-person, learned why TFI and the deliberate development of all Airmen is imperative to the mission.
“For the past 20 years, we have done nothing but deploy and fight using three components at the same time,” said Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman Ramon “CZ” Colon-Lopez. “We need to make sure every service member, regardless of component, is trained to perform at the same standard.”
Air National Guard Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Maurice L. Williams, who represents more than 108,00 Air Guard members, provided his perspective on the importance of TFI.
“The diversity of strength we have together makes us more effective and more efficient across all functions,” he said. “Being inclusive of all components brings us together as one team, building trust, and giving us the cohesiveness needed to accomplish missions efficiently.”
Participants heard how all components contribute to the current and future challenges to national security. The Total Force approach helps leverage innovative solutions in force structure, force management, and operations, to meet national security demands in a resource-constrained environment. Component leaders explained their TFI priorities and vision to help meet these objectives.
“Accessibility is key for full force in terms of how to proceed,” said Lt. Gen. John P. Healy, the chief of Air Force Reserve and Air Force Reserve commander. “I see capacity available in the Reserve component, especially when we see shrinking budgets and reducing top line end strength.”
“When you look at the total force—the United States Air Force—active, Guard, or Reserve, we have to be seamless,” said Lt. Gen. Michael A. Loh, director, Air National Guard “We have to be fully integrated across all three components and tell them everything that goes on as a Guard member, as a Reservist, or as an active-duty member.”
“We all think we know what the other [components] are doing, but in reality, how we’re organized, trained, and equipped is all a little bit different and knowing your fellow Airman is the number one thing we can do,” he added.
A total force approach could leverage more interoperability across the components and help eliminate challenges Airmen face when transitioning between components.
“The barriers are our own,” said Lt. Gen. Kevin B. Schneider, director of staff, Headquarters, Air Force. “Our pay systems are not the same between the regular Air Force, Guard, and Reserve and we make it too hard on ourselves. We make it too hard for Airmen to make that transition because we put them at risk of when the next paycheck is coming—it's almost like going to a completely different service and organization.”
“We are all in the United States Air Force. We ought to have common systems and a common way of doing business,” he added.
The Total Force concept is nothing new.
“When we pulled C-17s out of Afghanistan, we were all there—every single one of us,” (referring to the total force) said Loh. “We all put our lives on the line and on every single mission, you had all three components represented.”