Not included in the release detailing the Air Force’s planned beddown for new systems (see above) is a plan to expand the use of “associate” relationships among active, Guard and Reserve units across the country. Lt. Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr., deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs, notes that new machines like the F-22 and F-35 can fly more missions in a day than their predecessors. “I can increase the velocity [usage rate] on the aircraft by increasing the crew ratios,” Johns said. “By going through this association with the hardware, we can get the maximum capability out of the hardware.” Under an omnibus association plan, which is “yet to be written,” Johns said, virtually no missions will be off-limits to the Guard and Reserve. The Virginia Air Guard currently is operating and maintaining F-22s alongside active squadrons at Langley Air Force Base, while Air Guardsmen from St. Louis are in the pipeline to fly the nuclear-capable B-2, working with the active force at Whiteman AFB, Mo.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.