ORLANDO, Fla. – Air Force wide, a large emphasis is being placed on institutionalizing the total force concept in order to embrace all active duty, Guardsmen, Reservists, and civilian employees as members of a unified team and not as competitors.
“What holds us together is our partnerships throughout the Department of Defense, the government, this nation and the world,” said Lt. General L. Scott Rice, Air National Guard director, in a speech at the Airlift/Tanker Association Symposium. "So as we drive into the future, it isn’t about ‘us’, it’s about how we come together."
One concept that embraces this ethos, is the Integrated Wing pilot program currently being tested at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. The 911th Air Refueling Squadron, an active component tanker unit, functionally falls in line with the organization of the 916th Air Reserve Wing, located at Seymour Johnson AFB, but administratively reports to the 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill AFB, Florida.
The purpose of the I-Wing program is to integrate similar organizations throughout each base and streamline the various chains of commands to more effectively exceed mission requirements rather than offering a one-size-fits-all solution for every base.
“Seymour Johnson, is the first integrated wing in the Air Force,” stated Col. Douglas Stouffer, 916th Operations Group commander at Seymour Johnson AFB. “This gives us a chance to leverage experience and enthusiasm between the Reservists, Guardsmen and active duty Airmen.”
Total force is part of an evolving culture where all facets of the Air Force come together to embrace and utilize their strengths to secure top priorities such as taking care of the people, while balancing today’s readiness with tomorrow’s modernization.
“I don’t care whether you’re active, Guard, Reserve, or a civilian, you have to take on the responsibility of figuring out how to balance operations with all of your brothers and sisters who are supporting the overall mission,” said Rice. “The synergy of the total force makes us greater than the sum of all of our individual parts.”
Seymour Johnson AFB is currently one year into a three-year test period and collecting lessons learned for consideration to be applied to other organizations. If planners decide to continue, the timeline may be adjusted.
“It’s not about how we compare to each other, but about how we bring our forces forward at the right time, at the right place, to ensure the success of the mission,” said Rice.