ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Heroes of the Air Force Reserve:
Last month marked my first anniversary as commander of this amazing organization. It has been an incredibly busy year.
My focus is taking care of our Reserve Citizen Airmen and their families while ensuring we continue to provide robust capability to the joint force. I have no doubt we are ready for the future fight.
Less than a month after I took command, Hurricane Michael decimated Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, directly impacting our readiness and affecting our Airmen in the region. The command immediately took action, which ensured support to our personnel and enabled us to rapidly regain mission capabilities in the aftermath of the storm.
These actions and all the command’s efforts over the past year were driven by our mandate to support our Airmen and the three strategic priorities we established last fall: prioritizing strategic depth and accelerating readiness, developing resilient leaders, and reforming the organization.
These actions included taking smart risks to correct issues which could be quickly fixed, such as the medical “no-pay/no-points” policy for medical participation. However, many challenges cannot be resolved so rapidly. We have identified these issues and launched efforts to continue improving the command.
Throughout the year, I met with Congressional leaders, and in the spring I testified before subcommittees in the House and Senate. These engagements provided an opportunity to discuss the Air Force Reserve and our Reserve Citizen Airmen, informing legislative representatives of how we contribute to the national defense and of the needs of our members and their families.
The support and understanding of Congress is essential to our success. Congress controls our funding and can change the federal regulations which govern aspects of our operations. This includes civilian hiring.
Congress recently granted us direct hiring authority, which enabled us to fill 275 positions in six months. This, along with our decision to accelerate the conversion of selected ART authorizations to AGR billets, has increased our full-time manning by 3%.
In the last year, I’ve met with Air Force and other major command leaders to discuss the Air Force Reserve’s contributions and our role in the Total Force. I also spoke to audiences, large and small, about the Reserve and the amazing things our Airmen do every day.
However, the highlight of the past year has been traveling to Reserve wings and meeting our incredible Reserve Citizen Airmen. In the last 12 months, the command chief and I visited units across the country as well as four bases in the Central Command area of responsibility where we saw nearly 1,600 deployed Reservists in action.
These visits allowed me to see what our Airmen do firsthand. During these travels, I had the opportunity to meet with specialists from a variety of Air Force career fields, discuss their unique missions, the challenges they face and the tools they need to succeed.
It’s always a pleasure to sit down with our Reserve Citizen Airmen and learn about their contributions to the Air Force Reserve and our national defense. The Reserve is home to 20% of the Air Force’s capability, yet we operate on only 3% of the total Air Force budget. We are able to accomplish so much with so little because our Airmen are highly dedicated and incredibly capable.
Thank you for all your hard work over the past year. The command chief and I will continue our efforts to improve this organization with the ultimate goal of providing excellent support to you, our Reserve Citizen Airmen, and your families. We coexist to make your lives better, while ensuring operational readiness.
I am eager to witness the great things we, as a resilient, ready team, will accomplish in the coming year.