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'Big picture' an overall strategy that guides our daily behavior.

This month the senior leadership of the Air Force Reserve is meeting to discuss the future of the Reserve. That means we are going to look at the "big picture" and see whore we are headed and how we are getting there.

For those of us who have been in the Air Force Reserve for a while, we can recall when the big picture was called Future Total Force. FTF looked at new and innovative ways of integrating the Air Force's components. A few years ago, Air Force leadership recognized that Total Force was no longer in the future--we are integrated and operating as a Total Force today. So the initiative was renamed Total Force Integration and codified in Air Force instructions, pamphlets and doctrine.


The Air Force Reserve has always been on the leading edge of Total Force thinking in the Air Force. Our Total Force Integration initiatives are the model for the other uniformed services. But to remain on the leading edge, we need to periodically revisit and reassess our view of the big picture.

Too often the big picture is viewed as a subplot in dealing with daily issues and tasks rather than a well thought-out. overarching strategic concept that guides what we do on a day-to-day basis. When this happens, the reasons we are making major decisions sometimes become clouded.

Accordingly, I want to make clear to you my current view of the big picture. I think we have moved beyond our initial Total Force thinking to become a fully operationally integrated contributor to what 1 call a "viable force." A viable force, in my view, is a force that is not only operationally integrated but also capable of refocusing, reconstituting and recapitalizing while continuously engaged in daily operations without exhausting its people or its resources.

In order to remain an unrivaled wingman in this viable force, we must continue to remain an operationally centered force. This is where we should focus our efforts--today and tomorrow.

The characteristics important to being an operationally centered Reserve include having a Selected Reserve organized, resourced, equipped and trained to the same standards as the regular component. It also means minimizing the need to mobilize Ready Reserve units and individuals to ensure readiness training. It means having force-generation plans that clearly define Reserve participation patterns in a cyclic or periodic manner. Clearly defined participation patterns provide predictability to the combatant commands, the military services, the reserve component member, and the reserve component member's family and employer.

An operationally centered force continuously functions with some units and individuals engaged in daily operations while others remain in reserve. It can also rapidly change its mix of who is engaged and who is held in reserve in response to surges and shortfalls in national defense requirements.

Ensuring a viable force functions properly and remains operationally centered requires instituting force policies that maximize return on investment, mitigate risks inherent in the current global security environment and build a force that can rapidly rebalance capabilities within service components as well as between services. It also means being able to measure our successes with real metrics.

To be fully viable also means placing capabilities in the reserve component whenever reserve participation is cost effective and access to our Airmen is assured, sustainable and responsive to the needs of the Air Force.

Ultimately a viable force policy should allow the Air Force to commence a rapid response to any threat worldwide without first resorting to unexpected reserve mobilization. To do this, we must realize a viable force policy can no longer be about sustaining a large peacetime force in order to maximize the number of units and capabilities we have on paper. It has to be about having forces with the characteristics and capabilities that are ready to go when the Air Force needs them. And it also means Defense Department policies are in place that ensure our Airmen will show up as planned--to support the Air Force and its joint partners.

As we remain operationally engaged as unrivaled wingmen, I expect all of you to remember the big picture and keep it in mind as you engage in your daily missions.

By doing so, you help all of us be a better force. Stay informed. Stay engaged!

By Lt, Gen. John A. Bradley

Commander, Air Force Reserve Commend
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Title Annotation:From the Top
Author:Bradley, John A.
Publication:Citizen Airman
Date:Feb 1, 2008
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