By Lt. Col. Elizabeth Magnuson, Office of the Air Force Reserve
/ Published December 14, 2020
Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command, highlighted the contributions of the more than 70,000 Reserve Citizen Airmen during an extremely busy 2020 and shared the Air Force Reserve future priorities during the Reserve Forces Policy Board’s quarterly meeting December 9.
Throughout his speech, Scobee underscored the Air Force Reserve’s ability to deliver 20% of the Air Force’s overall operational and strategic capability with just 3% of the budget. He focused on the essential work Reserve Citizen Airmen accomplished with regard to the Department of Defense COVID-19 response and natural disaster support during 2020.
“Odds are, most of you have seen three of the Air Force Reserve’s unique mission sets in action over the past few months,” Scobee said. “Each of these capabilities we maintain – weather reconnaissance, large-area aerial spraying and aerial firefighting – is about one thing: taking care of our fellow Americans.”
The Hurricane Hunters of the 403rd Wing, Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, flew 146 missions into 23 storms in 2020, compared to 80 missions into nine storms in 2019.
The aerial spray specialists with the 910th Airlift Wing, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, supported Hurricane Laura relief efforts when clouds of mosquitoes were so thick they endangered cattle and horses. They sprayed more than a half million acres near Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Using the Modular Airborne Firefighting System, Reserve Citizen Airmen with the 302nd Airlift Wing, Peterson AFB, Colorado, helped fight three of the four largest wildfires in California history.
“Of course, when I talk about taking care of Americans, I have to mention our pandemic response,” the general said. “Over the past nine months, the COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges and opportunities for the Air Force Reserve. We’ve activated more than 3,500 Reserve Citizen Airmen in the largest unplanned mobilization since 9-11, all while changing the way we conduct our internal operations.
“These Reserve Citizen Airmen provided unrivaled support, braving a hostile virus in service of the American people. The mobilized teams were made up of doctors, nurses, medical technicians and more than 2,600 support personnel. Additionally, we mobilized 105 aeromedical evacuation crew members.”
As the command looks to the future, Scobee underscored AFRC’s dedication to remain ready to support the Joint Force and continually ensure the command is in alignment with the National Defense Strategy and the Chief of Staff’s strategic initiatives.”
“More than two years ago, our command chief, Chief Tim White, and I laid out the Air Force Reserve’s three strategic priorities – prioritizing strategic depth and accelerating readiness, developing resilient leaders who can generate combat power, and reforming our organization to optimize our warfighting capabilities,” Scobee said. “These priorities are aligned with (Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown’s) strategic vision of ‘Accelerate Change or Lose,’ and we are setting them up for long-term sustainment. To meet these obligations, we must ensure the Department of Defense can fully leverage the Air Force Reserve.”
The Reserve Forces Policy Board is a federal advisory committee within the Office of the Secretary of the Defense that is mandated by law. It serves as an independent adviser to provide recommendations directly to the secretary of defense on strategies, policies and practices designed to improve and enhance the capabilities, efficiency and effectiveness of the reserve components.