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

Three U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly in formation during Checkered Flag 17-1, Dec. 8, 2016. The integration training pilots receive during exercises like Checkered Flag ensure they can seamlessly work together in a real-world combat situation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Fox Echols III/Released)

Three U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly in formation during Checkered Flag 17-1, Dec. 8, 2016. The integration training pilots receive during exercises like Checkered Flag ensure they can seamlessly work together in a real-world combat situation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Fox Echols III)

Four U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., taxi down Tyndall’s flightline during Checkered Flag 17-1, Dec. 8, 2016. During the exercise, Tyndall’s F-22s were joined by F-35 Lightning IIs, F-15E Strike Eagles, F-16 Fighting Falcons, HH-60G Pave Hawks and an E-3 Sentry to ensure seamless integration in a simulated deployed location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Fox Echols III/Released)

Four U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., taxi down Tyndall’s flightline during Checkered Flag 17-1, Dec. 8, 2016. During the exercise, Tyndall’s F-22s were joined by F-35 Lightning IIs, F-15E Strike Eagles, F-16 Fighting Falcons, HH-60G Pave Hawks and an E-3 Sentry to ensure seamless integration in a simulated deployed location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Fox Echols III)

Four U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., taxi down Tyndall’s flightline during Checkered Flag 17-1, Dec. 8, 2016. During the exercise, the units involved are evaluated on their ability to mobilize, integrate, deploy and employ combat air power assets on a large scale. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Alex Fox Echols III/Released)

Four U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., taxi down Tyndall’s flightline during Checkered Flag 17-1, Dec. 8, 2016. During the exercise, the units involved are evaluated on their ability to mobilize, integrate, deploy and employ combat air power assets on a large scale. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Alex Fox Echols III)

A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor pilot from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., taxis down the Tyndall flightline during Checkered Flag 17-1, Dec. 8, 2016. During the exercise, pilots and Airmen from Tyndall work with members from Shaw AFB, S.C.; Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; Moody AFB, Ga.; Eglin AFB, Fla.; and Tinker AFB, Okla., as well as the Florida and Louisiana Air National Guard. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Fox Echols III/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor pilot from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., taxis down the Tyndall flightline during Checkered Flag 17-1, Dec. 8, 2016. During the exercise, pilots and Airmen from Tyndall work with members from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.; Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho; Moody Air Force Base, Ga.; Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; and Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., as well as the Florida and Louisiana Air National Guard. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Fox Echols III)

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, flies during Checkered Flag 17-1 at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Dec. 8, 2016. More than 300 Airmen and 16 F-15E deployed from Mountain Home AFB to participate in the large-force exercise, integrating with other fourth-generation aircraft as well as the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Alex Fox Echols III/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, flies during Checkered Flag 17-1 at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Dec. 8, 2016. More than 300 Airmen and 16 F-15E deployed from Mountain Home AFB to participate in the large-force exercise, integrating with other fourth-generation aircraft as well as the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Alex Fox Echols III)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

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.”