JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. - Senior Active-Duty, Reserve, National Guard and civilian Air Force and Space Force leaders participated in a Department of the Air Force Total Force Integration symposium, discussing how all components meet the demands of the total force.
More than 3,700 Airmen (active, Guard and Reserve), Guardians and civilians attended the four-day symposium March 14-17, either in person or virtually.
Participants learned how the Air Force is moving forward on strategic initiatives and leveraging the total force to support warfighters and why TFI and the development of all Airmen is imperative to the mission.
“For the past 20 years, we have done nothing but deploy and fight using three components at the same time,” said Ramon “CZ” Colon-Lopez, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman. “We need to make sure every service member, regardless of component, is trained to perform at the same standard.”
Chief Master Sgt. Maurice L. Williams, Air National Guard command chief, who represents more than 108,000 Air Guard members, provided his perspective on the importance of TFI.
“The diversity of strength we have together makes us more effective and more efficient across all functions,” he said. “Being inclusive of all components brings us together as one team, building trust and giving us the cohesiveness needed to accomplish missions efficiently.”
Participants heard how all components help address challenges to national security. The Total Force approach leverages innovative solutions in force structure, force management, and operations to meet national security demands in a resource-constrained environment. Component leaders explained their TFI priorities and vision to help meet these objectives.
“Accessibility is key for full force in terms of how to proceed,” said Lt. Gen. John P. Healy, the Air Force Reserve and Air Force Reserve commander chief. “I see capacity available in the Reserve component, especially when we see shrinking budgets and reducing top-line end strength.”
“When you look at the total force, the United States Air Force — Active, Guard or Reserve — we have to be seamless,” said Lt. Gen. Michael A. Loh, director, Air National Guard. “We have to be fully integrated across all three components and tell them everything that goes on as a Guard member, as a Reservist, or as an Active-Duty member.”
“We all think we know what the other [components] are doing, but in reality, how we’re organized, trained and equipped is all a little bit different, and knowing your fellow Airman is the No. 1 thing we can do,” he added.
A total force approach could leverage more interoperability across the components and help eliminate challenges Airmen face when transitioning between components.
“The barriers are our own,” said Lt. Gen. Kevin B. Schneider, director of staff, Headquarters, Air Force. “Our pay systems are not the same between the regular Air Force, Guard and Reserve and we make it too hard on ourselves. We make it too hard for Airmen to make that transition because we put them at risk of when the next paycheck is coming — it’s almost like going to a completely different service and organization.
“We are all in the United States Air Force. We ought to have common systems and a common way of doing business,” he said.
The total force concept is nothing new.
“When we pulled C-17s out of Afghanistan, we were all there — every single one of us (the total force),” said Loh. “We all put our lives on the line, and on every single mission, you had all three components represented.”