Air Force Commission Retires Today, but Recommendations Live On

It may the end of the road for the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force (NCSAF) as a body, but it is hardly the end of its findings. They should continue to impact the Air Force for years to come as the service accepts many of the commission’s ideas for the Total Force.

In what you may call its “final act,” the commission testified Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee alongside Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Gen. Mark Welsh, the service's chief of staff.

Fundamentally, the NCSAF pushed the Air Force to look at how it can better integrate its components after a year-long battle in 2012 that left a bitter taste. In an acknowledgment of what much of the Air National Guard community has always said, the Commission and Air Force leadership agreeded that the success of the Air Force has been due to the ability of its reserve-component aircrews to maintain the same levels of readiness as the active component.

Because of this, James and Welsh indicated that the Air Force is seriously working towards better integration and utilization of its Total Force. The majority of this work will be done by its newly created Total Force Continuum (TFC), the successor of the Total Force Task Force.

The TFC is working on a comprehensive analysis of components, weapons systems and mission sets to find the right total force mix, one that is more reliant on the Reserve Component. Welsh told committee members that at this point and time, 80 percent of the Air Force has been analyzed. He indicated that areas such as cyber, ISR and mobility may in fact be areas to grow the reserve component.

Gen. Welsh stated that he “firmly believe[s], and have for the last year, that by the ’16 budget we will have the great majority of the long-range plan fully analyzed and discussed with the entire force arena.”

Welsh stated that he “firmly believe[s], and [has] for the last year, that by the ’16 budget, we will have the great majority of the long-range plan fully analyzed and discussed with the entire force arena.”

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., asked James and Welsh their opinions on the commission and its review.

“Has it been beneficial in making appropriate and solid decisions?” he wanted to know.

Both officials said that the commission report was a fine body of work and was “tremendous to look at.”  However, both cautioned that they were not recommending a commission for other services. The Air Force commission was successful due to the close coordination between the Air Force’s Total Force Task Force and commission staff.

Gen. Welsh credited this success to the fact that “we were working in the same direction in parallel channels.” And this is why the Air Force is now moving in the direction where it plans to rely more on the Air Guard and Air Force Reserve.

Though the testimony of the commissioners was relatively brief, it did offer the Senate committee an integration plan which includes a detailed breakdown and timelines for when recommendations should be in place.

NGAUS thanks the Commissioners and their staff for all their hard work over the past year!

Hearing Transcript: Panel 1
Hearing Transcript: Panel 2

Council of Governor's Letter to SASC on NCSAF
AGAUS Letter to Secretary of Defense

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