The head of Air Force Reserve Command discussed the Reserve’s future role in F-35 Lightning II maintenance manning, along with other initiatives on July 7. Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson spoke at the Air Force Association’s monthly breakfast at the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, Virginia.
“We are giving a huge amount of support to make sure this high-end fight is brought in on time,” Jackson said. “Our manpower, particularly in active-duty and Reserve maintenance, is combining to fill the requirements at Hill, Luke and Nellis Air Force bases as we bring the F-35 on board.”
He also addressed the Air Force Reserve’s contribution to Air Force manpower shortfalls and inventory issues, as well as the Reserve’s role in the Strategic Master Plan recently released by Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III.
“Our Air Force and our combatant commanders rely upon on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance every single day, and I’m proud to say the Air Force Reserve stood up their first ISR group about year and a half ago,” Jackson said. “We now have 10 units that are operating in the ISR regime, and last year the 655th ISR Group provided more than 80,000 hours of ISR support to our combatant commanders.”
Jackson then went on to explain the biggest mission of the Air Force Reserve.
The Air Force Reserve is a hedge against the risk of not having everything the combatant commanders and the nation needs, Jackson said. A person doesn’t have to look very far to see the recent threats of (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), Ebola, and what’s currently going in the United States Air Forces in Europe and Air Force Pacific Command. The bottom line is, the Air Force Reserve is providing manpower, force structure, capability and capacity to every one of those fights. Welsh talks about the risk of not having the manpower needed going forward and the Air Force Reserve is the counter balance against that risk.
Jackson emphasized how the Reserve can preserve Air Force talent by absorbing members separating from active duty.
“We will continue to strive to capture every single skill set we can and keep it as long as we can as Citizen Airmen,” Jackson said. “For a pilot, you’ve probably put $3 million in to him or her at the six-year point, not to mention all the training (as well as) all the capability. We want to have them in the Air Force Reserve and we work hard to capture that talent.”
The audience consisted of 70 attendants, including industry partners, coalition partners, embassy attaches and Air Force members.