SEPTEMBER 21, 2016, NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (AFNS) – Lt. Gen. Maryanne Miller, the Air Force Reserve Command commander and chief of the Air Force Reserve, said the legacy of citizen Airmen of the past helped in strengthening and shaping the force for the future that defends the nation today during a session at the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference here Sept. 20.
Addressing the audience, Miller said since 1948, Reserve Airmen have chosen to balance successful civilian careers with military service, defending the nation when called upon. She recalled the service of World War II-era Airmen including actor Jimmy Stewart, who enlisted in the Army Air Corps, flew B-17 Flying Fortresses in combat, and later became commander of Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia; Charles Lindbergh, the first pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean; and Jackie Cochran, a pioneer pilot who urged the military to use female pilots to support the war effort in non-combat roles,and later served in the Air Force Reserve before retiring at the rank of brigadier general. Referencing these Airmen, Miller said, “(They) shaped our legacy and laid the foundation for who we are as citizen Airmen.”
Like those who came before, today’s reservists have a critical role in taking the fight to the enemy.
“As one Air Force, we are bound together as Airmen, as citizens and as Americans,” Miller said. “As one team, you have fought harder and your families have sacrificed more than most will ever know. … As citizens we are fully vested in our communities, raising our families, immersed in our civilian careers, and yet intimately feel that profound calling to do more, to serve and defend our great nation.”
Miller said the strength of today’s and tomorrow’s Air Force Reserve lies in the “strategic depth” provided by a predominantly part-time force of diverse and experienced Airmen, many of whom have come from the active component but have chosen part-time military service for reasons, such as wanting to start a new career, put down roots and raise a family.
“This force remains an affordable, cost-effective option in the fiscally constrained environment we live in today,” Miller said. “A force that can be fully called upon when needed.”
The Reserve provides daily operational capability and a “surge capacity” to the active component, Miller said, which requires a balance between assured access through mobilization and sustained readiness through reserve administration control and voluntary participation.
“We strive for missions that enable our citizen Airmen to maintain a balance between civilian and military careers. We desire sustainable mission sets to provide some predictability for our force even though our history demonstrates that our Airmen are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to continue serving.”
Because the Air Force Reserve is a steadfast and reliable component of nearly every mission the Air Force executes, Miller said it is critical to continue modernizing legacy systems and platforms; invest in Airmen to develop them and help them remain resilient; and pursue policies and programs that not only support a part-time force but develops future organizational structures that will enable readiness accountability and effective force management.
“It is not enough to just preserve that foundation,” Miller said. “We must also build on our current capabilities for the fight today. … With today’s complex global environment there is no indication that the demand for Reserve forces is going to decline.”
Preparing for the future requires change and looking for new options. With that in mind, Miller said the Air Force Reserve is committed to looking for opportunities for growth in space, cyberspace and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. It also means looking to industry experts, particularly in space and cyberspace, to leverage their civilian experience in order to increase the force’s effectiveness.
“The world is unpredictable, but we can help the Air Force Reserve be postured to meet any threat,” Miller said. “We do that by allowing every citizen Airmen the ability to answer the call to serve and defend our country to the best of their ability.”