JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. – Top leaders from Air Force active duty, the Air Force Reserves and Air National Guard addressed the importance and challenges of total force integration during a fireside chat at the annual TFI Symposium at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, March 22.
Hosted by the Headquarters Air Force Directorate of Total Force Integration, the three-day virtual symposium aimed to facilitate conversations and collaboration between the three Air Force components. Approximately 4,000 Airmen from across the globe participated in this year’s virtual event.
In opening remarks, Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider, director of staff for Headquarters Air Force, focused on the vision for the future force, saying that “TFI needs to be so ingrained in our day-to-day business that it becomes part of our DNA.”
TFI is the standard for the Air Force as it blends active, Guard and Reserve components in exercises and contingency operations worldwide.
Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, the chief of the Air Force Reserve, delved into why training environments are the ideal setting to strengthen TFI.
“All of our major exercises have the total force baked in, so that we can work out those nuances before go time,” said Scobee.
When sharing his perspective on TFI, Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, director, Air National Guard, underscored that teamwork, understanding and active participation are paramount to TFI success.
“Our vision is a fully integrated total force that leverages the strengths of each component,” said Loh. “If we understand all three components, the attributes of all three components, then we can get after things where we can compete, deter and, if necessary, go to war together.”
Schneider highlighted that implementing integration now is necessary to remain relevant in the great power competition.
“As the United States looks to the future, the contingency and conflict we may face are going to put an emphasis on speed and being ready to fight immediately,” said Schneider. “We are not going to be able to build these relationships [between the components] during conflict. We have to be ready to go right here, right now.”
Despite the nuances of each component, the three leaders agreed that TFI is key to ensure the Air Force remains the world’s preeminent source of airpower.
“As a total force, we need to be united to meet the priorities for national defense,” said Loh. “How are we going to compete, how are we going to deter and, when deterrence fails, how are we going to win the next war?”
“Each of the three components have a shared responsibility to be in lockstep to move forward,” said Scobee. “Whether it’s exercising or combat operations or protecting our most valuable resource, which is American lives … we need to work together.”