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September 16, 2009—Lt. Gen. Charles Stenner Jr., Air Force Reserve chief, said Sept. 15 that the next major budget that the Air Force will put together—its proposal for Fiscal 2012—will provide an important opportunity for the service to establish "the way ahead" to address its stressed career fields and lower the strain on its airmen in those missions. Examples of stressed fields include security forces, engineers, and unmanned aircraft operators.

Since the predictability and sustainability of Reserve deployments is so essential for Air Force Reserve Command to maintain itself as a viable strategic reserve that supports operational forces worldwide, lessening these burdens is a critical issue, he told attendees at AFA’s 2009 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition in Washington, D.C.

Indeed, every time the rate of deployments in a stressed career field grows, (e.g., from a 1:5 deployed-to-dwell time to 1:4), the Air Force loses 10 percent of its Reserve airmen in that field, said Stenner.

The issue is best addressed holistically by the active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve working together, he said. "It will take us a while to get there," and it will take a deliberate application of funds, but it's doable, he said.

AFRC is currently a force of 67,400 airmen. But on Oct. 1, it will be authorized to grow by 4,256 manpower authorizations and, by Fiscal 2013, it will reach a level of more than 73,000, when factoring these manpower authorizations and extra individual mobilization augmentees, according to Stenner.

To help understand the needs and motivations of his citizen airmen, Stenner said AFRC has already collected extensive data from them on their reasons for joining or staying in the Air Force Reserve. Now, it is in the process of sampling civilian employers for insights on their relationships with their Reserve airmen employees, he said.