Much like the Air Force’s “Total Force,” the Army is moving to a similar construct with its reserve components to leverage them more effectively, according to Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, Army Reserve chief. “We are being utilized now as an operational force,” particularly since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have demanded much manpower, Stultz told reporters Wednesday in Washington, D.C. However, the Army Reserve’s base budget still reflects the needs of a strategic reserve—for example, paying soldiers for one weekend a month and 15 days of annual training, in many cases, said Stultz. To reflect a “Total Army” approach, the Army needs to update budgets for training days as well as authorities for deployments, he said. The ability to deploy Army Reserve units on 90-day rotations—just as in Afghanistan or Iraq—when their cycle comes up would pay dividends for both the Reserve and combatant commanders, he said. Stultz asserted that the Air Force is better able to adapt its reserve component to expeditionary deployments because it largely fights with platforms. Aircraft crews are assembled based on skill and specialty related to an aircraft. “I need to deploy a unit, not a platform,” he explained.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.