Air Force Reserve Command continues to focus on readiness while balancing its airmen’s military careers with their civilian lives.
Air Force Times spoke with AFRC commander Lt. Gen. Maryanne Miller to discuss the challenges facing the command and how it leverages the skills of its troops.
Q. What are your priorities for the upcoming year?
A. As I took the seat just a little over a year ago, my priorities have not changed since then, and it’s to preserve our strength as a combat-ready, experienced force of citizen airmen. Also, we need to continue to build on our current capabilities and increase our readiness. Readiness is how we get the job done.
The last piece is to shape our force to respond to the force requirements of the future. With the expansion in space, with the ever-changing dynamics of the cyber arena, and the expansion of ISR, it’s just critical that we look to the force of the future and how do we shape that force to keep up with that mission demand that is changing ever so rapidly with the threat. Then, of course, what I always continue to focus on is leveraging our Reserve citizen airmen and that unique civilian experience that we bring to the mission every day.
Q. How does the command focus on maintaining readiness?
A. Well, as you can imagine, readiness is my absolute No. 1 priority, ... [and] we need to be ready within 72 hours.
So everything we do is with that metric in mind, that we have got to be ready to roll out the door in 72 hours in every mission set.
Our focus is truly on that right airman with the right skills and equipment in that right job. We begin the readiness journey with great recruiting and retention results. That’s the beginning of all of it for us. We also need the proper funding levels, uninhibited by continuing resolutions, which really hurt us.
Q. How is the pilot shortage affecting the Reserve?
A. Well, the Air Force pilot shortage is affecting the Air Force Reserve particularly in two ways. First, the shortage affects our full-time pilot manning.
About 70 percent of our force, to include the pilots, are a part-time force. So I do not have a retention issue on the part-time side. In fact, I am 95.6 percent manned on the part-time pilot force.
If you look at the maintenance force, the situation is the same.
On my full-time maintainers on the flight line, I have an issue with them. I’m 1,400 full-time maintainers short. On the part-time side of my maintenance force, I’m nearly 100 percent manned.
So there’s not an issue about going to war. The issue and the challenge every day is that full-timer on the flight line or in the cockpit that provides that training for that part-time force. We’ve had to gap those trainers, and we’ve gapped them with part-time airmen or maintainers on orders.
What we’re also doing is, in that realm, we’re providing monetary incentives, special salary rates and bonuses.
They all seem to have just a slight impact right now, but we see a trend moving in the upper direction that, just by providing all these monetary increases, that’s helped the retention of the full-time force to a degree.
Charlsy is a Reporter and Engagement Manager for Military Times. Email her at email@example.com.