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September 24, 2009—Air Force Reserve Command boss Lt. Gen. Charles Stenner confirmed at a Heritage Foundation presentation Thursday in Washington, D.C., that Reserve end strength is headed back up—and will reach an end strength of around 73,000 by 2013.

Like the active duty Air Force, the Reserves began shedding personnel, reaching 67,400 before mission needs halted the drawdown.

The first installment to its rebounding end strength will be between 1,800 to 2,200 personnel in the Fiscal 2010 budget that will go toward in-demand missions such as unmanned aerial vehicle operations, cyber warfare, intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance analysis, and the nuclear enterprise. (AFRC already has become USAF’s nuclear-capable B-52H formal training unit).

Explaining the new billets, Stenner said, “They’re not rebates to what we took out; they’re new missions.”

The command also is working with Air Force planners on the 2012 program objective memorandum with a keen eye to balancing out its manpower needs.

The Air Force plans to expand the use of associate units in multiple mission areas, employing new combinations of Reserve, Air National Guard, and active duty airmen.

AFRC has had great success in associate pairings in the last few years, Stenner said, and highlighted the partnership of the 507th Air Refueling Wing at Tinker AFB, Okla., with the Oklahoma Air Guard. The unit added four KC-135s to the wing’s existing eight tankers, and mission output went up by 70 percent.

The experience of the Oklahoma Guardsmen and Reservists proved very beneficial and efficient, Stenner said.

However, he emphasized that AFRC is still facing some steep challenges in managing dwell time for several in-demand career fields, such as security forces, so it can’t “wait till tomorrow to start programming for the additional force.”