Total Force, In Perpetuity

The Total Force Task Force—comprised of two-star generals from the Active, Guard, and Reserve—will continue indefinitely, said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, who is retiring today. He and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh “think we’re on a good track now” with the task force, which is charged with finding the optimum Active and reserve component mix. “We’ve asked (task force members) to start working these issues full time….there’s no endpoint to it,” Donley told Air Force Magazine in a final interview. What’s clear already is that putting 100 percent of any mission into the Active or ARC “will not work,” he said. The ratio of Active-to-ARC is being examined by mission area and individual specialty, he said, and the mix may vary considerably from mission to mission. He thinks the answer will be greater use of associations, and the task force will determine how best to “refine and fine-tune them going forward.” Some missions already are “finely balanced” and won’t need more tinkering. However, it’s “too soon to tell” what the future ARC will look like. “Part of it’s driven by the strategy—what the Air Force will be asked to do in the future—(and) what our overseas posture will look like,” he explained. (See also Seeking a Total Force Balance from the April 2012 edition of Air Force Magazine)