Wednesday, January 23, 2013

ACC command chief addresses Total Force Integration

by Ross Tweten
482nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/23/2013 - HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. -- The top enlisted member of Air Combat Command got a first-hand look at how active duty Airmen are integrating with the 482nd Fighter Wing here Jan. 14 and 15.

Command Chief Master Sgt. Richard A. Parsons' two-day trip focused on addressing the challenges and successes of Homestead ARB's Total Force Integration.

The concept of TFI is to integrate active duty Airmen with their guard and reserve counterparts, just as guard and reserve Airmen have been serving with various active duty units throughout the Air Force for many years. The goal of TFI is to enhance the Air Force's ability to conduct its mission through the sharing of resources, to include aircraft, crews, maintenance, and support, between active duty and the air reserve component.

"We are very enthusiastic about the chief's visit because we want to showcase the success we've had here at Homestead," said Lt. Col. Scott Walker, commander of Detachment 2, 20th Operations Group. "The 482nd FW has been an unbelievable host and made the transition of active duty and reserve Airmen a seamless process."

Given the success of Detachment 2's integration at Homestead ARB, the ultimate goal of TFI, and the chief's visit, is to tackle issues that, when solved, will make the integration even better. Underpinning issues addressed during Parsons' visit were support challenges active duty Airmen do not normally encounter at a typical active duty base.

"This is an opportunity for both Detachment 2 and the 482nd FW to address those challenges so the chief can take them back to Air Combat Command, and with Air Force Reserve Command's help, we can work on finding solutions that benefits us all."

During his stay, Parsons held an enlisted call with Detachment 2 Airmen, met with 482nd FW leadership and groups of Airmen throughout the wing, and attended a dedicated crew chief ceremony. The dedicated crew chief ceremony was especially poignant as it's the first assignment of an active duty crew chief to an F-16 at Homestead ARB since Hurricane Andrew.

Parsons stressed both the current and future challenges the Air Force is facing.

"One of the biggest challenges the Air Force is facing is our fiscal crisis," said Parsons. "Priorities have to be reevaluated. We have fewer people and fewer dollars. We need the very best people operating at their most efficient. So if you look around and you don't see others doing their best, tell them to step it up or step out."

The challenges of fewer people and dollars cut to the core of TFI. In part, TFI is a cost-saving measure, and according to Walker, Parsons can take the challenges and successes of Homestead ARB's TFI back to Gen. Mike Hostage, ACC commander, to then report up to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

Here at Homestead ARB, Detachment 2, 20th OG, is an active associate organization much like the classic associations already in place at active duty bases, just in reverse. Detachment 2 is operationally controlled to various units within the 482nd Fighter Wing but reports directly to the 20th OG located at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. Detachment 2 continues to grow rapidly and will ultimately consist of approximately 170 Airmen across 19 different operations and maintenance specialties.

As the mission of Detachment 2 progresses and Airmen continue to arrive, the Airmen of both Detachment 2 and the 482nd FW continue to strive to fulfill the TFI vision of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

"Since we've started receiving the bulk of our personnel, the mission has progressed by leaps and bounds," said Walker. "We are currently ahead of schedule on the number of personnel we have versus the number which we are supposed to be currently manned. This has led to Detachment 2 Airmen being able to integrate into every aspect of operations and maintenance."

TFI associations pair two units; a host and associate; representing two Air Force components, operating together. The host unit is assigned the physical resources for mission accomplishment, such as aircraft, equipment and facilities, and the associate unit shares those resources. Active associations pair a reserve component host and an active component associate to improve access to aircraft and total rotational capacity by assigning active component Airmen in reserve component units, allowing the highly experienced reserve component to help develop and season maturing active component Airmen. There are currently 100 TFI associations, both active and classic, across a variety of weapons systems and functional areas and Air Force Major Commands. The CSAF has directed the Air Force to develop additional active associations at all air reserve and national guard component fighter locations to ensure that the Total Force is able to absorb and season enough young pilots and maintainers to meet future Total Force requirements.

"All 482nd FW leadership and personnel have been extremely helpful and integral to the establishment of the detachment," said Walker. "If you were to walk out on the flight line or enter any of the maintenance shops, you would not be able to tell a reservist from an active duty Airman. This is a testament to how well the integration process has gone for us here at Homestead ARB."

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