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Air Force must stay the course with FTF, AEF

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Nov. 02, 2005) -- The Air Force must transform through Future Total Force and stay the course with the Air and Space Expeditionary Force concept, said the directors of the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard.

The Future Total Force concept is the Air Force's plan to better integrate the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and active duty components. While some of the changes proposed under the FTF concept have caused concern within the Air Force reserve component community, FTF must still happen, said the chief of Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command, Lt. Gen. John A. Bradley.

"FTF creates turmoil for people, but it is the right thing to do," he said. "The FTF is going to help us organize our Air Force and help get the active duty, the ANG, and Air Force Reserve in the right mixture of equipment and personnel across America. We will be a better Air Force 10-15 years from now because of the hard work we are doing today."

Under the FTF plan, some missions, including aircraft missions, may be eliminated or moved to other installations. One reason for those kind of moves is to reduce the inefficiencies that come from maintaining many small units of aircraft, said General Bradley.

"We are trying to get the right number of airplanes on our bases so we don't have small enclaves of airplanes. It is inefficient, not economical," he said. "Looking at the future, we need to have the right number of fighters, tankers, and (airlift aircraft) on our bases."

The Air Force has also worked to develop new missions for units that may lose missions. These new missions involve space, satellites, monitoring of space objects and unmanned aerial vehicles.

"We are trying hard to get them another job, because we want to keep these people," General Bradley said.

Also part of the future of the Air Force is continuation of the AEF concept. The concept has been in place now for more than a decade. Changing it now may cause trouble with recruiting and retention, said Air National Guard director, Lt. Gen. Daniel James III.

"I'm hearing a lot of talk, and it really concerns me that people are talking about changing the AEF," General James said. "We have a system that has worked for us for the last ten-plus years. I think it is a mistake to approach a system that works in one of the services and try to mold it into a system so that we look like the others."

General James said modifying AEF rotations too much, to coincide with sister service rotations, would have a negative impact on volunteerism in the Air National Guard.