TFI for Readiness

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Michael Hong
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing

On December 2, 2018, a crew of 17 Reserve Citizen Airmen, mostly with the 78th Air Refueling Squadron, 514th Air Mobility Wing, departed JBMDL’s flight line on a KC-10 Extender to haul a training cargo load across the Atlantic Ocean and refuel both U.S. Air Force and Scottish Royal Air Force fighter jets above the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


However, beyond the aerial refuel and cargo transport missions of the 78th ARS was another auxiliary for the four instructor pilots present on the aircraft. The instructors also trained active-duty KC-10 pilot 1st Lt. Kyle Harris, with the 2nd Air Refueling Squadron, 305th Air Mobility Wing located at JBMDL, as well as the two Reserve co-pilots onboard.


At the heart of this collaboration between the 305th AMW and the 514th AMW, active-duty and Reserve respectively, is the Total Force Integration model.

The TFI model proposes that Total Force Associations are formed between two or more USAF component organizations to share resources when performing a common mission. The KC-10 squadrons of JBMDL—2nd ARS (active-duty), 32nd ARS (active-duty), 76th ARS (Reserve) and 78th ARS (Reserve)—were no exception for the need to maximize utility and find creative ways to optimize the existing force structure to meet mission demands with constrained resources and to dominate our adversaries in an increasingly dynamic environment as outlined in the scope of Air Force Instruction 90-1001, Planning Total Force Associations (TFAS).


Harris was slated to deploy soon after the trip was concluded on December 7, 2018. The problem was, he was racing against the clock to update his pilot competencies and currencies in order to be cleared for deployment.


It just so happens the 305th Operations Group was not slating any of its KC-10 squadrons with missions that would satisfy Harris’ transcript before his scheduled deployment.


“I needed an Atlantic flight,” said Harris referring to the competencies that could only be made current by participating in a mission like this one, which included destinations like Royal Air Force Lossiemouth, Moray, Scotland and Belfast International Airport, Northern Ireland.


“There are four instructor pilots on this flight,” said Lt. Col. Kellie Kavanagh, KC-10 instructor pilot with the 78th ARS. “Any one of them can train Lt. Harris.”


By the time the mission concluded, Harris would have been on the primary crew for two of the four sorties that took place on the five day journey across the Atlantic and back. On the way back, the commander of the 78th ARS, who was present on the mission, would continue to train Harris despite the dim lights and sleeping crew members of the final sortie.


“There are a lot of moving parts and I’m going to throw a lot at you in the next hour,” said Lt. Col. Robert McAllister, commander of the 78th ARS and KC-10 instructor pilot, as he sat next to Harris in the passenger seats of the KC-10.


Even though the KC-10 is slated for retirement—a groundbreaking ceremony at JBMDL Dec. 3 commenced the construction of a new aircraft hangar for its replacement, the KC-46A Pegasus—current KC-10 pilots still must maintain their currencies and competencies to finish the KC-10 Extender program strong.


“The KC-10 is going to be around for many years to come,” said Col. Thomas O. Pemberton, 514th Air Mobility Wing commander. “There is talk about the KC-46 and we’ll leave that for the future. I’m more concerned about taking care of the KC-10 program and the KC-10 professionals who we have on duty right now.”


With the TFI, the guidance of Pemberton as well as the directives of the 305th AMW, leadership will continue to operate under the mission demands and resource constraints that permeate the KC-10 air refuel squadrons at JBMDL.


Since May 21, 2015, the USAF has been looking towards inclusiveness as a key aspect in achieving collective innovative potential. The 78th ARS, in partnership with the 2nd ARS, was able to authenticate inclusiveness as a strategic imperative of the total force towards meeting the military objectives of the nation.


“Thanks to you guys, I’m able to deploy on time,” said Harris.