ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
The Space Force, COVID-19, diversity and transitioning between the various Air Force components were among the hot topics when Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command, joined the director of the Air National Guard and the Air Force director of staff for a roundtable discussion during the all-virtual Total Force Integration Symposium March 23.
Scobee teamed up with Lt. Gen. Timothy Fay, the Air Force director of staff, and Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, the Air National Guard director, to answer questions sent in before and during the panel by participants.
The three leaders agreed that the Reserve and Guard bring a unique capability to the Air Force and that making transitioning between the various components and statuses easier for all Airmen should be a priority.
“We need to change the status to best suit the needs of the Airmen and their families,” Scobee said. “What is the right pay that makes sense for the situation? What is the right set of benefits? We need to tear down any barriers to service.”
“No matter what component you serve in, you should be able to seamlessly transition between them,” said Loh. “We all have unique skill sets and a diverse team performs better.”
Fay said that current Total Force recruiting commercials highlight all of the Air Force components and encourage new recruits to join the component that best suits them.
“Not just the active duty, Guard and Reserve, but our civilian teammates too,” he said. “This is the future. We want you to serve where you can serve and how you can serve. It makes us a more powerful team.”
All three generals said they were synchronized with Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr.’s “accelerate change or lose” strategic directive.
“Our lines of effort are in lockstep with the CSAF and we’re making sure our Airmen can operate independently and build trust in their units,” Scobee said. “We want them to feel empowered to take smart risks to improve. We want to make sure our Airmen know they have a voice in what we’re doing. It’s a warfighting imperative.”
When asked how the Air Reserve Component would integrate with the Space Force, Scobee said the Guard and Reserve contribute greatly to the space mission and the challenge going forward would be how to bring everything together, especially from a manpower perspective.
“We sit in a unique time when we’ve created a Space Force and we’re focused on setting it up for success,” he said. “I’m pretty excited and impressed with how they’re going about this. We’re going to get it right. That’s my promise to you.”
Moving on, the generals discussed the challenges and opportunities brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When the nation needed us, we answered the call and we demanded a lot of our Airmen,” Loh said. “The lessons of COVID are huge for our nation. We empowered our leaders throughout the 90 wings and said let us know what you’re doing and we’ll figure out how to get around the barricades.”
Scobee said that never before has the Reserve surged to take care of Americans like it did when the pandemic hit. His team worked to provide decision space for commanders at the local level because they would be able to make the best decisions based on local conditions.
“Not one command team didn’t make great decisions,” he said. “The capabilities we were able to push out were incredible.”
A running theme throughout the discussion was the power behind diversity.
“Diversity is the strength of our nation and our adversaries don’t share that attribute,” Fay said. “It drives our innovation and we need to do better.”
He said respect for every Airmen will ensure they can bring their greatest strengths to the team.
“It’s about respect for each other, our culture, our nation and our values,” he said. “We have to value each other because that is the way we win.”
Scobee said that racism and extremism were incompatible with service to the country.
“Diversity and inclusion are warfighting imperatives,” he said. “We can’t provide combat power without them.”
He also said that strength in the organization comes from having robust diversity in all areas.
“Why would we exclude any population when we’re trying to be the best we can be for America?” he said.
“When bringing different background skillsets and viewpoints together, you get a more robust solution,” Loh said. “You’ll quickly find out as a commander and a leader that you want someone around you who is different from you.”