Air Force Reserve

The Air Force Reserve is a major component of the Air Force and a capable partner in the Total Force.


The Air Force Reserve supports the Air Force mission to defend the United States through control and exploitation of air and space by providing Global Reach and Global Power to America. The Air Force Reserve plays an integral role in the day-to-day Air Force mission and is not a force held in reserve for possible war or contingency operations.

The Air Force Reserve has about 40 flying squadrons equipped with their own aircraft and some 20 associate units that share aircraft with an active-duty unit. A single space operations squadron shares its satellite control mission with the active force. There also are more than 660 mission support units in the Air Force Reserve, equipped and trained to provide a wide range of services, including aerial port operations, civil engineering, security police, electronic security, communications, mobility support, logistics, and transportation, among others.


Office of the Air Force Reserve

The Office of Air Force Reserve, located in the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., is headed by the chief of Air Force Reserve, a Reserve major general, who is the principal adviser to the chief of staff of the Air Force for all Reserve matters. Consistent with Air Force policy, the chief of Air Force Reserve establishes Reserve policy and initiates plans and programs. In addition to being a senior member of the Air Staff, he is also commander of the Air Force Reserve.

Headquarters Air Force Reserve

Headquarters Air Force Reserve, a field operating agency at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., oversees the day-to-day mission activities of the Air Force Reserve units. It also supervises the unit training program, provides logistics support, reviews unit training and ensures combat readiness. Within the headquarters element are divisions for operations, logistics, comptroller, information management and personnel support.

Fourth Air Force at McClellan Air Force Base, Calif.; 10th Air Force at Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas; and 22nd Air Force at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., report to Headquarters Air Force Reserve. They act as operational headquarters for their subordinate units, providing operational, logistical and safety support.

Air Force Reserve Personnel Center

Air Reserve Personnel Center, a field operating agency located in Denver, Colo., provides personnel services to all members of the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. Services include assignments, promotions, career counseling and development, and separation actions. Air Reserve Personnel Center also manages individual programs for the Ready Reserve, and maintains master personnel records for all Guard and Reserve members not on extended active duty. In times of national need, the center would mobilize individual reservists and certain categories of Air Force retirees.

Reserve Categories

Reservists are categorized by several criteria into either the Ready Reserve, Standby Reserve or Retired Reserve.

Ready Reserve

The Ready Reserve is made up of approximately 195,000 trained reservists who may be recalled to active duty to augment active forces in time of war or national emergency. Of this number, more than 80,000 reservists are members of the Selected Reserve who train regularly and are paid for their participation in unit or individual programs. These reservists are combat ready and can deploy to anywhere in the world in 72 hours. Additionally, about 117,000 are part of the Individual Ready Reserve. Members of the IRR continue to have a service obligation, but do not train and are not paid. They are subject to recall if needed.

The president may recall as many as 200,000 Ready Reserve personnel from all Department of Defense components for up to 90 days and can extend them an additional 90 days if necessary. Some 24,000 Air Force reservists from 220 units were called to active duty during the Persian Gulf War to work side-by-side with the active-duty counterparts.

Standby Reserve

The Standby Reserve includes reservists whose civilian jobs are considered key to national defense, or who have temporary disability or personal hardship. Most Standby reservists do not train and are not assigned to units. There are approximately 12,000 reservists in this category.

Retired Reserve

The Retired Reserve is made up of officers and enlisted personnel who receive pay after retiring from active duty or from the Reserve, or are reservists awaiting retirement pay at age 60. There are more than 623,000 members in the Retired Reserve. All may be involuntarily recalled to active duty by the president, Congress, or when otherwise authorized by law.


Selected reservists train to active-duty standards through the unit training or individual training programs. Mission readiness is verified periodically, using active-force inspection criteria. Reserve training often is scheduled to coincide with Air Force mission support needs. Since most Air Force Reserve skills are the same needed in peace or war, training often results in the accomplishment of real-world mission requirements. This mission support is referred to as a by-product of training and benefits both the Air Force Reserve and the active force.

Unit Training Program

Nearly 70,000 reservists are assigned to specific Reserve units. These are the people who are obligated to report for duty one weekend each month and 15 additional days a year. Most work many more days than that. Reserve aircrews, for example, average more than 100 duty days a year, often flying in support of national objectives at home and around the world.

Air reserve technicians are a special group of reservists who work as civil service employees during the week in the same jobs they hold as reservists on drill weekends. ARTs are the full-time backbone of the unit training program, providing day-to-day leadership, administrative and logistical support, and operational continuity for their units. About 10,000 reservists, fully 15 percent of the force, are ARTs. About 7,500 work in aircraft maintenance; the remainder fill other support and aircrew positions.

Individual Training Program

The Air Force Reserve's individual training program is made up of about 12,000 individual mobilization augmentees. IMAs are assigned to active-duty units in specific wartime positions and train on an individual basis. Their mission is to augment active-duty manning by filling wartime surge requirements. IMAs were used extensively during Operation Desert Storm and can be found in nearly every career field.

Reserve Associate Program

The Air Force Reserve Associate Program provides trained crews and maintenance personnel for some 300 active-duty aircraft and space operations. This unique program pairs a Reserve unit with an active-duty unit to share a single set of aircraft. The result is a more cost-effective way to meet increasing mission requirements. Associate aircrews fly C-5 Galaxies, C-17 Globemaster IIIs, C-141 Starlifters, C-9 Nightingales and KC-10 Extenders. The Reserve is also scheduled to field an associate unit to fly B-52 Stratofortresses.

Assigned Aircraft

The Air Force Reserve has more than 500 aircraft assigned to it. The inventory includes the latest, most capable models of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, O/A-10 Thunderbolt II, C-5 Galaxy, C-141 Starlifter, C-130 Hercules, AC-130 Spectre, KC-135 Stratotanker and H-60 Pave Hawk helicopter. On any given day, 99 percent of these aircraft are mission-ready and able to deploy within 72 hours. Most would be gained by Air Combat Command or Air Mobility Command if mobilized. A limited number of specialized aircraft would go to Air Force Special Operations Command. These aircraft and their crews are immediately deployable without need for additional training.

Exercises and Deployments

Realistic exercises and deployments are an essential element in maintaining combat readiness. Air Force Reserve units participate in more than 60 exercises each year and deploy to locations around the world. Exercises and deployments help reservists hone skills needed when responding to a variety of possible contingencies anywhere in the world.

Real-World Missions

Air Force reservists are on duty today around the world carrying out the Air Force vision of Global Reach -Global Power. A proven and respected combat force, the Air Force Reserve also is quick to lend a helping hand. Humanitarian relief missions may involve anything from repairing roads and schools in a small village in Central America, to airlifting badly needed supplies into a war-torn city, to rescuing the victims of nature's worst disasters.

At the request of local, state or federal agencies, the Air Force Reserve conducts aerial spray missions using the only such capability in the Department of Defense, and checks the spread of forest fires by dropping fire retardant chemicals from specially equipped C-130s. Other real-world missions include weather reconnaissance, rescue, international missions in support of U.S. Southern Command, and aeromedical evacuation.

The Air Force Reserve also takes an active role in the nation's counternarcotics effort. Reservists offer a cost-effective way to provide specialized training, airlift, reconnaissance, and other unique capabilities to local, state and federal law enforcement officials.

October 1993

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