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From the Top - Total Force

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- The Air Force has experienced a great deal over the past ten years. The numerous contingency and crisis actions around the world requiring Air Force assets and assistance continue to stress the need for airpower, and the Total Force continues to answer the call. With the active component asked to do more and more, the Air Force Reserve component has adopted an operational footing to share the load. Doing so not only eases the burden for the active component, but it also fosters a stronger relationship between the components. While differences still exist, the qualities that bind the active duty and the reserve are stronger. Both are volunteer forces with a desire to serve their country. Both are highly professional, highly experienced forces capable of performing the Air Force mission separately, however, together they provide a much broader and stronger capability.

Too often, we focus on the differences between the active and reserve components first. We must change this approach. Yes, we are different, but we are also similar. Nothing points out our similarities better than to see the Total Force in action down range at one of our deployed locations.

I just returned from a deployment where I served as chief of staff on a joint force/total force headquarters staff. I was proud that I could not tell a reservist from a guardsman from an active duty member, and I had all three on my staff. As a result of my position, I also had the opportunity to visit many of the work sites throughout Baghdad. It was rewarding to see the mentality of our Air Force personnel rolling up their sleeves and getting the job done as representatives of the Air Force first and their component (active duty, reserve or guard) second.

As it should, Joint Base Andrews serves as a beacon for the Total Force. From an Air Force perspective, we have two active component wings, one Air National Guard wing and one Air Force Reserve wing. In addition, we have one Naval Reserve unit as well as a plethora of groups and detachments from the various services or governmental agencies. We go about our daily business executing our respective missions, deploying our personnel around the world seemingly independent of one another. In reality, much we do on a daily basis has an impact on one another whether that be in the form of the services provided or utilized or providing airlift for the inspection team for the recent compliance inspection or providing alert forces ensuring the security of the airspace over Washington, D.C. In times of need, as well as in our daily efforts, we provide one another support and together make Joint Base Andrews stronger.

Department of Defense and Air Force leadership will continue to need the services and capabilities provided by the Total Force as no one component will be able to go it alone. The days of yesteryear are behind us. Total Force is our present and our future. Even with the drawdown of forces at some of the deployed locations, there will continue to be a need for Air Force personnel to fly, fight and win around the world. To be most effective and efficient, that mission will best be accomplished by the Total Force Air Force and I am proud to be associated with the Total Force that is Joint Base Andrews!