AF3: Guiding Where We Are Going Without Forgetting Who We Are

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Recently approved by Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command, the concepts of the Air Force Reserve Future Force Framework, AF3, serve as a guidepost to develop the Air Force Reserve of 2035 and beyond.

“The mission of the Air Force Reserve to provide combat ready forces remains unchanged,” Scobee said. “However, transformation in future warfare and society will require adjustments in how the Air Force Reserve recruits, retains and readies the force.”

According to the 2018 National Defense Strategy, strategic competition with revisionist powers is now the primary national security focus, and the Defense Department must evolve for future success. The department is emerging from a period of strategic atrophy that saw heavy reliance on the operational use of Reserve forces.

“Now, in a new era of competition, each service must reevaluate Reserve component utilization,” Scobee said.

For about a year, Reserve staffs at AFRC and the Pentagon worked with more than 50 action officers, technical experts and senior leaders from across the command seeking data and perspectives for AF3. Their core task was to answer the question: “What should the Air Force Reserve look like in the future?”

“The result was a bold statement founded on three evolutionary concepts,” said Col. Tim Voss, chief of the Strategy and Planning Division at Air Force Reserve headquarters at the Pentagon.

The AF3 team concluded that the Air Force Reserve of the future is “all-domain, combat-ready Reserve Citizen Airmen providing optimized, sustainable strategic depth through tailored training and participation.”

“As the NDS states, warfare of the future will be different than the fight that busied the joint force over the past 25 years,” Voss said. “But just as warfare is changing, so is society. Competition for talent, changing work structures and how people live will impact the Air Force Reserve’s predominately part-time force in unprecedented ways. Therefore, the Reserve must design and field a capable, ready and resilient force that is prepared to support a future joint fight with an eye towards high-end readiness and a changing society.”

Three strategic concepts – mission optimization, tailored training and participation, and Reserve Citizen Airmen branding – work together to serve as a foundation for evolutionary change to design and field that force.

“These concepts acknowledge the Air Force Reserve will remain a predominantly part-time force, focused on maintaining predictability for Airmen, families and civilian employers,” Col. Chris Locke, deputy director of AFRC Plans, Programs, and Requirements, said. “Moreover, the concepts also help shape the Reserve’s contribution to the Total Force by providing an informed assessment of how best to leverage the unique strengths of the Reserve.”


Mission Optimization

Mission optimization seeks to identify those missions best-suited for the Reserve, accounting for future NDS objectives and the hallmarks of a part-time force. Best-suited missions will not only align with the Air Force of the future but they will also capitalize on the Reserve strengths of experience, private-sector skill sets and credentialing in career fields – medical, logistics and cyber for example.

“Mission optimization does not mean immediate change to Air Force Reserve missions, but it will offer a new lens of analysis as Department of Defense and Air Force missions continue to evolve for great power competition,” said Dr. Rob Laukaitis, AFRC Strategic and Capabilities Based Planning Branch chief.


Tailored Training and Participation

The tailored training and participation concept preserves the Reserve identity of a predominately part-time force while bolstering readiness for the highly contested environment. A multi-year training roadmap, tailored by mission area, will provide a transparent and predictable schedule for how and when Reserve Citizen Airmen train, while balancing commitments to families and civilian employers.

“Commanders will synchronize in-person and virtual participation, improving efficiency, effectiveness and readiness for the high-end fight – particularly for the part-time force,” Lt. Col. Alison Hamel, AF3 project lead, said.

“In-person participation will be scheduled across functional communities, so operations, maintenance, logistics, personnel, etc… can train together as task-organized teams against higher threat scenarios and build muscle memory beyond what can be accomplished during annual training.”

Leveraging technology, future Reserve Citizen Airmen may accomplish certain administrative requirements on virtual participation days, enabling a mission capability focus during in-person participation.

“When Airmen physically come to their units, they will know their time will be well spent on quality training,” Hamel said.


Reserve Citizen Airmen Branding

Capitalizing on the unique quality experience of Reserve service, the future Air Force Reserve will evolve its Reserve Citizen Airmen branding. The brand will enable the Reserve to attract, engage and retain members with the skills, experience and diversity of thought necessary for sustained success.

It will appeal to Airmen leaving the active component, engage civilian accessions with the necessary skills of tomorrow, and inspire Reserve Citizen Airmen to continue serving in the Air Force Reserve.

“Reserve Citizen Airmen branding will convey a strong external and internal identity, clearly distinguishing the Air Force Reserve amongst stiff competition,” Laukaitis said. “The brand will connect every member to a mission in support of national security and symbolize Airmen’s self-image, communicating to themselves and others the type of person they envision themselves to be.”


“The 2018 NDS states that Defense Department-wide change is paramount to continued success, and General Scobee directed us with taking smart risk in reforming the organization to meet NDS objectives, prioritize strategic depth and accelerate readiness for the long-term challenges,” Locke said. “AF3 provides the impetus for cohesive reform at all levels,”

Over the next several months, experts from across the Reserve will delve into the AF3 concepts, developing lines of effort and taking tangible steps toward making these concepts a reality.

Questions, comments and suggestions on AF3, its concepts and building the Air Force Reserve of the future can be sent to AFRC A8XP at #ReserveReady  #ReserveResilient #ReserveReform

(This story was written by Air Force Reserve Strategy and Planning Division and Air Force Reserve Command Strategic Plans and Programs staffs)