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By Staff Sgt. Shelby Thurman
Air Force Global Strike Command
More than 60 senior leaders from Major Commands, Numbered Air Forces, and Wings across the U.S. Air Force converged on Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, to attend Air Force Global Strike Command’s 2023 Air Reserve Component Summit on Aug. 29. The purpose of the event was to reaffirm the continuing relationship that AFGSC has with the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command.
During the event, AFGSC commander Gen. Thomas Bussiere shared the vision that he and his team have for AFGSC’s enlisted development model, overall mission, and plans for increased Total Force Integration. Additionally, he mentioned that he is hopeful to see what that Total Force relationship looks like as they all continue working together to create and train innovative leaders who provide safe, secure, and effective combat-ready forces for nuclear and conventional global strike.
“When the boss says, ‘Hey, what does the future look like?’ I tell him that it will include Total Force Integration. That's why we're here,” said Chief Master Sgt. Melvina Smith, AFGSC command chief. “At the end of the day, it's the three leaders moving in the same direction so that we can smartly be able to have a conversation about our enemy.”
One of the highlights of the ARC Summit was when Chief Master Sgt. Melvina Smith hosted a working lunch for the other command chiefs and senior enlisted leaders in attendance. Joining her was Chief Master Sgt. Maurice L. Williams, Air National Guard command chief; Chief Master Sgt. Israel Nuñez, Air Force Reserve Command command chief; Chief Master Sgt. Neco Johnson, AFGSC first sergeant; Chief Master Sgt. Ronnie Woods, Eighth Air Force and the Joint-Global Strike Operations Center (AFGSC) command chief; Chief Master Sgt. Christopher S. Bluto, Jr., 10th Air Force (AFRC) command chief; Chief Master Sgt. Kim Groat, Alaska ANG command chief; Chief Master Sgt. Jessica Settle, Missouri ANG command chief; Chief Master Sgt. Andy Anderson, South Dakota ANG command chief; Chief Master Sgt. Joshua Moore, Wyoming ANG command chief; and many other SELs from around the Air Force.
With these leaders all gathered at once they were able to dissect topic after topic throughout their two hours together. With Total Force Integration as the overarching theme, they were able to hit all three of Smith’s top priorities: Readiness, resilience, and retention. All of these topics focused on Gen. Bussiere’s number one line of effort: People.
“These Airmen raise their hand just like us. They serve just like us,” said Smith. “We're having candid conversation with them; and while not everything we have to say is something that they want to hear, we're being very honest and open with every conversation we have.”
By having the goal of taking care of people at the forefront of the mission, this led to in-depth strategic conversations about how quality of life and quality of service could be improved. Part of meeting that demand drew on the need for more first sergeants across the entire force. The command chiefs of both the ANG and AFRC said they were confident in their MAJCOMs’ abilities to provide support.
“If you have any first sergeant slots that you are not able to fill within your MAJCOM, we are willing to fill those,” said Williams. “We want to get something established and to make it a continuum because we need our first sergeants taking care of people regardless of where they are.”
The AFRC command chief echoed the ANG command chief’s remarks when he noted that in addition to having the Air Guard and Reserve’s multi-capable Airmen fill in for short-term and long-term capacities, they can also be mobilized to support deployments.
“If you know consistently that you have a need in your first sergeant force, then if you plan it two years in advance you can easily access the Reserve, and you can easily call up our first sergeants to help support in a deployment type of scenario,” said Nuñez. “That's what we call assumed versus assured access.”
One of the other big takeaways was how they all can better communicate and promote taking full advantage of available Guard and Reserve MPA/RPA orders and IMA opportunities to ensure improved readiness, resilience, and retention across the entire force.
Additional topics covered were how to secure course seats specifically for Reservists and Guardsmen; ensuring relevant technical training; the similarities and differences between MPA/RPA orders and IMA positions; managing TDYs and PCSs; Palace Chase and Palace Front opportunities; and much more.
With each new point of interest brought up, they were all able to go around the room to add their unique perspectives and expertise to the conversation. Many of the command chiefs and other SELs present echoed remarks about how they were thankful to have a seat at the table in order to contribute and to have more talking points about the field to bring back home.
“If there is something that we are rolling out when it comes to nuclear education and you're a partner, I need to have a seat at the table for you,” said Smith. “Because you are going to go with us and you're going to go for us and you're going to stand in for us. We have to be doing it together now in all the efforts that we do.”
As their two-hour window came to a close, Smith reiterated the importance of their meeting and the entire ARC Summit.
“I typically sit where you sit, and this is what I see every single day: Airmen providing long-range precision striking,” said Smith. “I never forget why we're here, and I never forget what we're doing. Ever.”