Maj. Gen. Allan Poulin, vice commander of Air Force Reserve Command, told attendees at AFA’s Air & Space Conference Tuesday that AFRC has faced unique challenges since 9/11, including BRAC 2005 changes, new Total Force initiatives, and its own personnel drawdown—now halted—all while working an increased operations tempo. Poulin noted that 26 AFRC units were affected by BRAC, and many reservists with important skills were lost as missions transferred to new locations. “We can’t PCS our force,” Poulin said and added that although the command has done its best to offer incentives to encourage skilled personnel to move, many do not want to leave their communities and families behind. He acknowledged, too, that retaining skilled people will be a challenge as the command steps into new missions as part of the 43 TFIs being undertaken by the Air Force. Among its efforts to better manage its force, AFRC works within the air expeditionary force cycle to try to instill some deployment regularity for Reservists and their employers and tries to deploy units together rather than piecemeal, a concept Poulin referred to as “buying the base.” And, AFRC tries to arrange deployments to the same three bases in Southwest Asia—two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan—since that breeds familiarity and speeds mission start up, said Poulin. He added that a side benefit of deploying whole units is that it increases volunteerism.
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.