by Maj. Jon Quinlan
507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
8/26/2013 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The
National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force visited with
National Guard, Air Force Reserve and active-duty members here Aug. 20
to get their perspectives on how best to shape the future force.
The commission was established by Congress earlier this year to study
the Air Force's three components to determine if and how the structure
should be modified to best fill current and future mission requirements
with available resources. This independent analysis and the commission's
recommendations are due to the president and Congress by Feb. 1, 2014.
Reservists from the 507th Air Refueling Wing along with their Air
Reserve Component association partners, Oklahoma Air National Guard's
137th ARW, came together to provide the commissioners a unique look at
the KC-135 association through briefings, tours and discussions.
Reservists in the 513th Air Control Group provided the commissioners a
look at the E-3 Sentry and detailed how their classic association with
the active-duty 552nd Air Control Wing has garnered success, especially
in support of the combatant commanders in deployed theaters.
"We're here to listen and learn," said the Honorable Dennis M. McCarthy,
the commission's chair, a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant general
and a previous assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs at the
Pentagon. "You've got some great people here, and that's no surprise."
Along with McCarthy, three other commissioners visited Tinker AFB. They
are former Oklahoma Adjutant General, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry
(Bud) M. Wyatt III, retired Air Force Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr., and Dr.
Janine A. Davidson.
During the visit, the commissioners ate breakfast with junior grade
Airmen. Wyatt later recalled a theme that came out of the breakfast with
one guardsman telling him, "I want to be trained to get into the fight,
to do the mission," said Wyatt. "They want to be part of the
The executive director of the commission, Dr. James Blackwell
highlighted that the visit to Tinker and all visits they make are
important steps in gathering information so the commission can make the
"Once again we have heard from the Airmen about the real impact of
transforming the Air Force. What we heard today is confirming what we
have heard at other visits," Blackwell said. "We have seen different
perspectives here and you can really tell the Airmen speak with a lot of
Tinker AFB has all members of the total force team, guard, reserve,
active duty and a robust civilian workforce. This made Tinker a prime
location for the commission to see total force integration in action and
to see details about the unit associations.
"One thing that was unique about our visit to Tinker is that here your
tanker units (507th and 137th ARWs) have a real unique association,"
Blackwell said. "It's the first time the commission has seen an ARC
association, and it provided us with a lot of valuable information."
The commission held an off-base hearing in Midwest City, Okla. next to
the base. They first heard from squadron commanders and superintendents
from the active, guard and reserve units on Tinker. Next they heard from
state and local community leaders as well as members of the public.
U.S. Senator James M. Inhofe and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin each
addressed the panel highlighting the importance of the commission's
visit and their recommendations in the defense of the nation.
"The commissioners heard something else here for the first time. The
military has been accustomed, in a decade of wartime decision making, to
focusing on effectiveness," executive director Blackwell said. "Now for
the foreseeable future, the Air Force has to focus on a steady state
that will emphasize peace time cost effectiveness. That message seemed
to resonate with commissioners."
The NCSAF will continue to visit with more units with future visits
scheduled for Selfridge ANG Base, Michigan and Joint Base Pearl
(Barry Willey, NCSAF public affairs contributed to this story)