Integrating the Total Force at Luke AFB Published Aug. 2, 2023 By Airman 1st Class Mason Hargrove 56th Fighter Wing LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.-- The 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, routinely conducts operations between active-duty, Air Force Reserve Command, and Air National Guard members to maintain a cohesive operational force and support Total Force Integration. The 944th FW, the 161st Air Refueling Wing, and the 162nd FW are integral parts of Luke’s TFI and capitalize on a full-spectrum of talent. As the largest fighter pilot training wing in the Air Force, the 56th FW is tasked with the development of not only active-duty personnel, but also their ANG and AFRC counterparts. In addition to the local training mission at Luke AFB, the 56th Operations Group also has operational control and responsibility for units at other locations. Active-duty F-15C Eagle pilots assigned to the 550th Fighter Squadron fall under the 56th OG, and are currently training at the Oregon ANG’s 173rd FW at Kingsley Field, Oregon. The 56th OG also has embedded F-16 Fighting Falcon instructor pilots in the 162nd FW at Morris ANG Base, Tucson, Arizona. The ANG and AFRC provide additional manpower, training opportunities, and capabilities which strengthen the combined combat effectiveness across the total force. “At Luke, Total Force Integration is most effective because the 56th FW can leverage the high experience levels of AFRC Airmen with the resources the active duty provides,” said Col. Matthew Johnston, 56th OG commander. “Additionally, AFRC serves an important role in retaining talent for some Airmen that leave the active duty.” By training together, pilots from the AFRC, ANG, and active-duty gain valuable insight into each other's missions, building strong relationships and developing useful communication skills. Various ANG units provide F-35 Lightning II “Panther” instructor pilots to the 56th FW that will someday return to their state to help transition their home units from legacy fighters to the F-35. Additionally, through joint-use airspace and aerial refueling operations, ANG and AFRC units operate with the 56th FW during routine training sorties and large-force exercises, such as Haboob Havoc and Instructor Pilot War Days. “The predictable cadence of fighter training makes Total Force Integration work very well at Luke,” said Johnston. “Total force benefits the entire wing and its mission.” By integrating the unique skills and experiences of ANG and AFRC personnel, Luke AFB is able to enhance its overall mission of training the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready Airmen through training initiatives. “We leverage the aviation and tactical experience of our Reserve and Guard counterparts by bringing them to our training environment and mission,” said Lt. Col. Joshua Larsen, 56th Operations Support Squadron commander. “All parties benefit from the increased integration, as it fosters lasting relationships between individuals and keeps separate communities intertwined through regular interactions.” These collaborations promote interoperability and combat effectiveness among the active-duty Air Force, ANG, and AFRC, ensuring an adaptable and ready total force to address future challenges in potential resource-constrained environments.