Flexibility, working together key to Air Force FTF

11 Jul 2005 | Master Sgt. Mitch Gettle

Leaders from the active-duty Air Force, Air Reserve Command and National Guard Bureau spoke recently about the direction of the Air Force’s Future Total Force.

The future of the Air Force will be determined not only by the Future Total Force plan, but also the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure recommendations, the 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review, ongoing capabilities studies and annual budget deliberations, said the Air Force director of plans and programs.

“We must keep in mind that there will always be moving parts,” said Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Wood. “The Future Total Force planning process is a dynamic one.”

General Wood said the FTF plan comprises two parts: a well-analyzed, cost-constrained force structure and innovative organizational structures that synergize the strengths of active-duty and citizen Airmen.

Lt. Gen. John A. Bradley, chief of Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command; Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau; and Brig. Gen. Allison Hickey, director of the FTF directorate, accompanied General Wood to highlight the unity among the three components in forging ahead on the future plans of the Air Force.

“We have been working with our Air National Guard and active-duty partners on this Future Total Force (plan) from day one,” General Bradley said. “It’s going to make us a much more operationally effective Air Force in the future.”

“The Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve will not be excluded from any mission set for any of the weapons systems for the Future Total Force,” General Blum said. “There are great opportunities … that exist for (the Guard and Reserve) to deliver the capabilities that this nation needs.”

These capabilities include Homeland Defense, which, according to General Blum, “must be capability number one for the Air National Guard.” He also said that retaining expeditionary combat support capabilities are “hugely essential” and will provide support in their federal role, as well as give the governors the capabilities they need during state emergencies. These capabilities include medical, civil engineering, communications and security.

The six FTF initiatives originally proposed in December 2004 continue to move ahead, while all components work closely together to expand and plan for future emerging missions.

“We will continue to work with all stakeholders in this process to work through emerging mission priorities while assessing the resulting budget, manpower and training impacts,” General Hickey said.

As BRAC and QDR move forward, the Air Force will be responsive to changes and address new strategy and capability requirements, General Wood said.

“BRAC does not dictate the number of airplanes, it deals strictly with basing,” General Bradley said about the effect of potential changes to BRAC recommendations. “If the direction coming out of BRAC changes, we will work together to make the necessary adjustments.”

“It is important to remember … there will never be a ‘final’ Future Total Force plan,” General Wood said. “Like the evolutionary nature of our air (and space) expeditionary force, we must retain the ability to adapt our plan.”

General Blum and General Bradley agreed, stating the FTF plan would be the Air Force priority regardless of ongoing studies or external events. The plan reinvests savings from divestiture of older weapon systems to allow future capabilities.

“We need to be postured for the future instead of stuck in the past,” General Blum said. “We will continue to work together -- active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve -- to reach our goals without ever compromising the capabilities we bring to the fight."