Wightman Offers Views on Future of the Air Force

Richard O. Wightman, Jr. urges commission to consider unique role of the Reserve Component during the last decade of war

By Jenny Swigoda

 
In a hearing before the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense of Reserve Affairs Richard O. Wightman, Jr. asserted the unique role that members of the Reserve Component play in the current environment of the U.S. military.
 
“Our 1.1 million members of the Ready Reserve represent about 43 percent of the total force for approximately nine percent of the defense budget…These dedicated men and women have met, and continue to meet, the current and anticipated requirements of the services and combatant commands,” said Wightman during the hearing on Friday, Oct. 25.
 
Since Sept. 11, 2001, about 900,000 RC members have been activated, Wightman explained, creating an eight-fold increase from an average of 8.5 million duty days prior to the last decade, to 68.3 million duty days during the height of the surge in Iraq.
 
Wightman explained that his office has received positive feedback from employers regarding employees that serve in the Reserve Component.
 
“One of the reasons I believe is the current dwell ratio goal of 1:5 which promotes predictability and accessibility, two keys to the successful utilization of our Reserve Component members,” said Wightman.  
 
However, in the current “draw down” state of the military in Afghanistan, Wightman emphasized the need to continue utilization of the Reserve Component as a part of the operational total force in order to ensure national security and readiness.
 

“Today, the Reserve Component is at a level of readiness, reliability, accessibility, and combat experience never before see in our nation’s history. We must continue to preserve the quality of the all-volunteer force and not break faith with our men and women in uniform, their families, or their employers,” Wightman urged.