Reoptimizing the Force for Great Power Competition

  • Published
  • By Lt. Gen. John Healy

In early September, Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall charged the Department of the Air Force with reoptimizing the force for Great Power Competition. For those who are new to the term, Great Power Competition, or GPC, describes the strategic environment that focuses on the People’s Republic of China as a pacing threat. 

For the last 30 years, our operational focus in theaters outside the Pacific has led the Department of the Air Force to place efforts on organizational structures, policies and management practices around contingencies other than GPC. These outdated practices have forced us to examine how the Department of the Air Force, and for us, the Air Force Reserve, perform fundamental functions to provide support to the Joint Force and combatant commanders.

To combat this emerging threat, Secretary Kendall and his senior leader team have created five lines of effort, each assigned a secretariat and service component lead, which your command staff has aligned efforts with over the past few months.

These LOEs tackle problem sets that require reform to deter and defend against People’s Republic of China aggression; LOE 1 – Organize: Headquarters organization and command and unit level structure. LOE 2 – Equip and Sustain: Acquisition and sustainment, technology transition and warfighting advantage delivery. LOE 3 - People: Recruit, retain and train for GPC. LOE – 4 Readiness: Generate, sustain, evaluate, manage and assess readiness. LOE 5 – Support: Provide installations, mobilization and core competencies to the Total Force.

Our success in GPC requires coordination across the Total Force and your senior leaders have been involved in every step of the analysis and development process. This collaboration ensures the Air Force Reserve is ready to provide the combat surge capacity and experience that our combatant commands need and expect. By Jan. 31, 2024, we plan to have senior leader approval to begin implementation of our new processes and reorganization, and I assure you that we will keep you informed as these changes develop. Our Air Force Force Generation model is already preparing us to support our combatant commands more efficiently, and any future changes will only prepare us even further for the threat that lies ahead.

Despite our increasing efforts, I cannot stress enough the importance of taking some time over the holidays to reflect on your year of successes and hard work. Everything you have done thus far has prepared you in ways you can only begin to imagine, and our new strategic focus will only further enhance our capabilities.

Your dedication and sacrifices are not only felt by you, but also your spouses, children, family and friends. Appreciate what you have accomplished over the past year: deployments, exercises, TDYs, training…all while preserving your families, relationships and personal goals.

Serving in the military while balancing a civilian career takes a special kind of commitment, and I know that keeping up with both careers takes a lot out of you and your loved ones. However you choose to celebrate this holiday season, don’t forget to take a deep breath, give thanks, give yourself some grace and revel in every challenge you have overcome. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to you and your families.