Commission Report Urges Greater Use of Air Guard, Reserve

(Jan. 30, 2014) The Air Force should shift missions and personnel from the active component to the reserve component, but maintain its current size, a congressional panel recommends after a year of gathering testimony about the service.

The National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force released its report today on Capitol Hill with good news for the Air National Guard. The report can be found here.

“We recommend a greater reliance on the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve; creating opportunities and incentives for longer service in uniform to minimize military personnel and family turmoil; and increasing opportunities for movement by Airmen within the components of the Air Force,” the eight commissioners wrote in an opening letter within the report.

Over the following 125 pages, they lay out what one commissioner called “a new paradigm of reserve service” that would include more associate units, increased mission sets for the Guard and Reserve, greater utilization of Air Guard bases and more.

Retired Lt. Gen. Dennis M. McCarthy, the commission chairman, said the panel members heard time and again from current Air Guardsmen who said that despite the increased use of the force, its limit had not been reached.

“They believe they can do more than they have so far,” he said to a packed room in the Russell Senate Office Building.

The commission agrees. And it suggests those capabilities can be better utilized by eliminating barriers between the components.

“The Air Force should integrate the components more completely, giving Reserve Component Airmen more opportunities to serve, reducing both statutory and regulatory barriers among the components, and more broadly inculcating and institutionalizing an awareness of the value of the Total Force throughout the Air Force,” they wrote in the executive summary.

And its eight members were adamant that the cost efficiencies in the reserve forces should be utilized.

“If you have the same level of readiness and you’re less expensive,” said retired Col. R.L. Brownlee, a former acting Army secretary, “it only makes sense to transition some of the missions [and some of the manpower to the less-expensive components].”

McCarthy pointed out that the reason the commission was created one year ago by the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act was because of increasing budget constraints. However, he said, “The bulk of the things we recommend would make sense even if there were no budget crisis.”