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Active duty, Guard, Reserve integrate during Checkered Flag 17-1

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Alex Fox Echols III
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

At Checkered Flag 17-1, legacy and fifth-generation fighter jet integration creates aggressive and advanced training opportunities. 

Just below the surface, another integration is happening, ensuring multiple Air Force components receive the same vital learning opportunities.

Active-duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard Airmen from around the country are working together through Total Force Integration at Checkered Flag. They are preparing to rapidly respond to any current, real-world conflict while training for the future of air dominance.

“The Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard components bring the same capabilities to Checkered Flag that they do to the entire Air Force each and every day,” said Col. Randy Cason, 44th Fighter Group commander and Checkered Flag 17-1 Air Expeditionary Wing commander. “They bring experience, continuity and a high degree of technical and tactical expertise.”

During the exercise, numerous pilots and about 25 percent of Tyndall’s maintenance team are reservists, bringing their knowledge, experience and proficiency to the fight.

“A lot of times these Airmen don’t even know whether someone working around them is a reservist or active duty. We are all just in the fight together,” said Capt. Matthew Goldey, 44th Fighter Group maintenance operations officer and Checkered Flag 17-1 Air Expeditionary Maintenance Group commander. “We are all one team.”

With budgetary restraints being an ever-present Air Force concern, Total Force Integration ensures U.S. airpower is not diminished while being fiscally mindful.

“Total Force Integration is an existential requirement for the Air Force while in constrained budgetary environments,” Cason said. “We have a lot to do, but we also must be good stewards of the U.S. taxpayer’s money. [This strategy] allows us to ensure mission success at a reduced cost.”

Day-to-day operations and large-scale exercises like Checkered Flag ensure all components of the Air Force are ready for the fight.

“The Air Force benefits from everyone being capable of accomplishing the mission,” Cason said. “Reserve and Guard members being able to participate with the active-duty Air Force members means we are all trained to the same standard, equally capable, performing the same mission and able to integrate and operate as a team.”