AFRC commander discusses Reserve successes, future vision at Air, Space, Cyber Conference

Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command, spoke about how the Air Force Reserve is critical to providing capability and capacity for the nation during a panel discussion at the annual Air, Space and Cyber Conference Sept. 21 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, director of the Air National Guard, also spoke at the panel titled Total Force: Air and Space. Retired Maj. Gen. Doug Raaberg, executive vice president of the Air Force Association, moderated the panel.

During the panel discussion, Scobee discussed the uniqueness of the Reserve and the part it plays in the total force.

“The Air Force Reserve is in every mission set that the Air Force has, every single one,” Scobee said. “I ask where you would not want surge capacity. The answer is always, we want surge capacity everywhere. Well, then we need to be everywhere that you are.”

Scobee also discussed the Air Force Reserve’s role in the recent Afghanistan evacuation.

“By the time we got to the 24-hour point, we had 34 airplanes, two C-5s (Super Galaxy) and the rest C-17s (Globemaster III), and 80 crews that had volunteered to operate in this environment,” Scobee said “That’s what you call access to the Reserve component, just through volunteerism. We got our people where they needed to be.”

He also said he was proud of how the Guard, Reserve and active component worked together to get after the mission.

“That was a daunting task,” Scobee said. “The most complex aerial mission that has been done probably in history if you look at what we had to do and the ability we had to move cargo.”

Throughout the panel, Scobee and Loh answered questions submitted by the audience or follow-up questions by Raaberg.

In response to a question about the current fiscal environment, Scobee discussed the cost-saving benefits of the Air Force Reserve.

“We need to make the hard choices on what things are important, where we want the surge capacity and then pay for what we need instead of paying for all of the huge overhead you may have in a giant standing Air Force,” he said. “That is one of the things we will really need to dig into and look at is where are the efficiencies and effectiveness of having the ARC within what we do in the Air Force.”

He also answered questions about some challenges for the Reserve and fiscal constraints.

“Toward the end of the fiscal year, like we are now, there are tough choices,” Scobee said. “The choices between what we do for readiness and resources, and trying to combine those two things to balance them out well for our Airmen, is where we struggle. I spend a lot of time talking to our Airmen about how much we are trying as a command to ensure we are giving them the resources to be successful.”

On the future of the Space Force and the Reserve, he said the intent is for the Reserve to seamlessly continue providing space capability.

“What we want to do is set up everything for success as we go forward to create an organization where everybody can serve to the best of their ability, whether it is in full-time or part-time status,” Scobee said. “What we need are great Guardians and Air Force members who are going to make this country’s space fight more lethal to our enemies.”

If there was one take away from the panel, Scobee told Raaberg there is “no country in the world with a Reserve or a Guard that is as capable as ours, and that is by design. That is why we are successful.”

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