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The Total Force Integration experience

Posted 2/16/2011   Updated 2/16/2011 Email story   Print story

    


Commentary by Capt. Joe Laveglia
54th Airlift Squadron Operations Flight Commander


2/16/2011 - SCOTT AIR FROCE BASE, Ill.  -- When I PCS'd to the 54th Airlift Squadron at Scott, there was a new concept to digest, Total Force Integration. My last and only assignment besides pilot training was a traditional mobility pilot tour as a KC-10 pilot in an active duty squadron with reserve counterparts located just across the street. The reserve and active duty had some interaction, either on a mission, a local formation sortie, or just seeing them out at lunch.
It was seldom the crews were "rainbowed," or mixed active duty and reserve crew members for flights. Needless to say, they were certainly separate squadrons.

At Scott, the 54th is an active-associate TFI squadron. The squadron is administratively attached to the 375th Air Mobility Wing and augments the C-40 operational mission of the 932 Airlift Wing. To accomplish the squadron's operational mission, the 54th works side by side with the 73rd Airlift Squadron (Reserve). The two squadrons "rainbow" all the crews, share the mission load and, thanks to a new consolidated operations building, share office space.

If you were to walk into the new building, it's not obvious where one squadron starts and the other ends. The same goes for many facets of the organization. Many squadron and group level sections have been consolidated with both active duty Airmen and Air Reserve Technicians working together in the same section. A few sections have remained separate between the 54th and 73rd, but every effort is made to communicate and maintain continuity.

For me, it took a little time to map out how business was done. After seeing how things work for many months, I have come to a few conclusions. In certain aspects, the 54th is highly integrated with the 932nd. In others, we are a part of the 375th. There are gray areas we encounter that predominantly straddle the administrative-operational relationship, such as who should a training waiver be sent to, Air Force Reserve Command or Air Mobility Command? For an active duty crew member the answer is both, for a reservist it is just AFRC. That is a small example of the small hurdles active-associate units have to manage. But the extra effort that has to be made in certain spots is well worth the partnership we have with our reserve partners.

The area that TFI is most effective in is maximizing operations. It gives the integrated units a more flexible, dynamic crew force, consolidates certain sections, and thus improves productivity. A crew force made up of traditional Reservists, Air Reserve Technicians, and active duty provides flight schedulers a wide variety of personnel to fill missions. It also helps maintain a balance between mission accomplishment and squadron office duties. Here's how: active duty members and Air Reserve Technicians are always available for missions, but also have to run the day-to-day needs of the squadron sections. Traditional reservists augment operations and enable the ARTs and active duty to maintain coverage back in the squadron, when needed. Consolidating sections between the squadrons also alleviates duplicate work. Theoretically, instead of having two separate sections with four people each, you can now have one section with four people split between the two squadrons and still manage effectively. After seeing TFI, I can fully understand what the TFI initiative was intended for--more efficient and effective operations.



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