So says, Lt. Gen. Charles Stenner Jr., Air Force Reserve chief and head of Air Force Reserve Command. Speaking before a gathering Monday at the Reserve Officers Association mid-winter conference in Washington, D.C., Stenner said, while the military’s reserve components are a critical part of the operational force, they must preserve their traditional role as a strategic reserve force. “It is what we are about,” he said, adding, “We have been and continue to be required as a strategic reserve, period.” Abandoning that role to become just an operational force would mean a loss in the “depth that we as a nation need to ensure that we cover all types of contingencies,” whether they are homeland defense missions or major combat operations around the world, he said. “You won’t do that without strategic depth,” he said. Stenner also said AFRC’s rotations—120-day deployments—have been very successful so far since September 2001, and the Reserve seems to be hitting its stride with the 10 Air and Space Expeditionary Force buckets in play. There are stressed career fields and it is incumbent upon AFRC leadership to advocate for “rebalancing” to be as efficient as possible, he said.
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.