ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command, highlighted what new, “normal” operations look like for the Reserve during the COVID-19 pandemic at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyberspace Conference this week.
As with most things 2020, the conference was held virtually. Scobee participated in a pre-recorded panel titled “The New Ops Normal: COVID” that aired Sept. 16.
The panel was moderated by retired Maj. Gen. Douglas Raaberg, AFA executive vice president. Also on the panel were Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Air Force Materiel Command commander; Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, director of the Air National Guard; and Maj. Gen. John E. Shaw, U.S. Space Command Combined Force Space Component commander and U.S. Space Force Space Operations Command commander.
During the panel, Scobee discussed how the Air Force Reserve has risen to meet the challenges of the current pandemic. He said that as the crisis began, he and Chief Master Sgt. Timothy White, AFRC’s command chief master sergeant, set out their top priorities, including:
• Taking care of Americans, Airmen and their families;
• Continuing mission-essential operations while remaining safely ready to execute wartime tasks;
• Preserving decision space for commanders;
• Preserving the force; and
• Ensuring robust information flow up and down the chain of command.
Scobee said one of the strengths of the Reserve component is its ability to surge to meet the needs of the country while still maintaining daily missions. He said within 48 hours of receiving the request for COVID-19 support, the command was able to send close to 100 medical personnel to the points of greatest need in both New York and New Jersey.
“When the nation needed us to take care of our fellow Americans, we activated more than 1,700 Reserve Citizen Airmen in support of the COVID-19 operational response,” he said. “Our airlift forces were mobilized immediately to transport medical personal, protective equipment and ventilators globally, saving lives. That’s what we do in the Guard and Reserve – surge to protect Americans.”
During the panel, Scobee also highlighted how Air Force Reserve command was able to maintain readiness while keeping with social distancing guidance and how the lessons learned during the pandemic will serve AFRC well in the future.
“Even in a post-pandemic environment, which we will find ourselves in eventually, a telework culture can remove barriers, and for us in the Reserve Component, it’s really about making it easier for Airmen to serve,” he said. “I want all of our Airmen to find it easy to serve whether it’s in a part-time or full-time capacity. Why would we go back to anything different?”
Scobee went on to highlight that the pandemic has demonstrated why resiliency, flexibility and empowering commanders has been critical to the command’s success.
“The command chief and I are proud of our Citizen Airmen who have shown both resiliency and innovation over the past six months,” he said. “They inspire us every day and give us confidence that we will come out of this crisis as an even stronger team.”