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National commission to visit 13 bases, Tinker included

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The "National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force" is planning to visit 13 Air Force locations, including Tinker. The visits began Tuesday at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

Appointed by the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act, the commission is reviewing the Air Force's structure to determine if and how it should be changed to meet future missions and funding challenges. The commission's report and recommendations are due to the president by Feb. 1, 2014.

"This is one of the biggest issues for the future of the Air Force - to develop the right force mix of Regular and Reserve Component Airmen," said Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, chief of Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command. "Getting this mix right directly affects our Air Force's capability, capacity, efficiency and cost-effectiveness."
The commission's visits include:

July 29: Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Springfield Air National Guard Base, Ohio
July 30: Mansfield ANGB, Ohio; Rickenbacker ANGB, Ohio
Aug. 5: Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.
Aug. 13: Barksdale AFB, La.
Aug. 20: Tinker AFB
Sept. 5: Pease ANGB, N.H.; Westover AFB, Mass.
Sept. 6: Burlington ANGB, Vt.
Sept. 22-23: Camp Smith/Hickam Field, Hawaii
Sept. 25: Beale AFB, Calif.

The commission is led by the Honorable Dennis M. McCarthy, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general and the previous assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs at the Pentagon. The vice chair is the Honorable Erin Conaton, a former under secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and previous under secretary of the Air Force.

Other members of the commission include: F. Whitten Peters, former secretary of the Air Force; Les Brownlee, former acting secretary of the Army; retired Air Force Gen. Raymond Johns Jr., previous commander of Air Mobility Command; retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. "Bud" Wyatt III, previous director of Air National Guard; Dr. Janine Davidson was a deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Plans, and Dr. Margaret C. Harrell is the director of the Army Health Program at the RAND Corporation.

During their visits at each location, the commission will tour facilities, hear mission briefings and meet Airmen at wing, group and squadron levels. Also, the commission will hold off-base hearings with state and local community leaders as well as members of the general public.

Senior leaders in Congress and the military are looking at ways to balance the ratio of Regular and Reserve Component Airmen to create the most effective and efficient combat capability in austere budget times.

In January, the secretary and chief of staff of the Air Force established a "Total Force Task Force" to create a process to determine the appropriate force mix. This task force is led by generals from each component: Maj. Gen. Mark Bartman, Air National Guard; Maj. Gen. Brian Meenan, Air Force Reserve; and Maj. Gen. John Posner, Regular Air Force. The task force's data and findings are a ready resource for the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force.

"Today's Air Force Reserve is a combat-ready force with operational capability, strategic depth and surge capacity, to be used by the nation in a variety of ways, either abroad or at home," said General Jackson during his testimony to the National Commission on June 3. "With a shrinking defense budget, increasingly consumed by manpower-associated costs, there is little doubt the cost-effective Reserve Component will continue to provide a valuable role."

Regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Airmen work together around the world as a team in air, space and cyberspace. Today's "Total Force" consists of about 327,600 Regular Air Force Airmen, 105,400 Air National Guardsmen and 70,880 Air Force Reserve Airmen actively serving in the Selected Reserve as designated by the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act. The Air Force Reserve also maintains a strategic depth of more than 790,000 stand-by or non-participating Reservists and retirees that can be called up for national emergencies.

After more than two decades of continuous combat operations, the Reserve Components are relied upon now for daily operations as well as strategic surges. By leveraging the resources and talents of all the Air Components, planners are developing better solutions to capitalize on the strengths of each component.

"I believe that working together we can combine the personnel, equipment, and readiness necessary to build a Total Air Force equal to all the challenges our nation faces," Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, director of the Air National Guard, during his testimony to the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Defense, on March 20.