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Suitability of Missions for the Air Force Reserve Components

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As the Air Force plans and implements budget-driven force structure reductions, questions about the right mix of forces have emerged from the active component AC, the reserve components RC, and other stakeholders. This document seeks to illuminate the factors that bear on the suitability of various missions for assignment to the RC and should therefore be considered in force mix deliberations. We note at the outset that past force reductions have not been proportional across the components. Nor do we believe that proportionality should be the basis for future reductions. Rather, carefully assessed suitability of the AC and RC to provide force structure for various missions, with cost and effectiveness as a primary concerns, should drive force composition decisions. A primary consideration is the relative availability of the RC for meeting both strategic and operational taskings from combatant commanders. This availability is tempered by statutory and funding restrictions on the use of reservists for active missions. These restrictions establish a primary focus on reserve force training and administration by both full-time reservists and part-time reservists while funded under reserve appropriations. This reduces the utility of the RC as an operational reserve. We also found that management of the Military Personnel Appropriation MPA man-day program is not optimal for fully utilizing the RC as an operational reserve, primarily because the man-day program does not explicitly consider access to lower RC flying hour costs available in some missions. In our discussion of relative AC and RC costs, we stress that cost comparisons are meaningful only when costs are expressed in terms of useful unit outputs. For flying units, we identify those outputs as owned aircraft with ready aircrews and maintenance workforces, total flying hours, and operational flying hours.

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  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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