Air Force Reserve Command leader criticizes report calling for organization’s elimination

wcrenshaw@macon.comFebruary 26, 2014 

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Lt. Gen. James Jackson

WARNER ROBINS -- A special commission’s recommendation to do away with Air Force Reserve Command came as a surprise to the organization’s leader.

Lt. Gen. James Jackson testified three times before the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, which released recommendations that included folding reserve forces under the command of the active-duty Air Force.

“This elimination of the Air Force Reserve Command was never brought up,” Jackson said in a telephone interview with The Telegraph.

The command’s headquarters is at Robins Air Force Base, and it employs about 1,100 people. All of those jobs could be lost if Congress accepts the committee’s recommendation.

According to the 21st Century Partnership, which advocates for Robins, the command has a $150 million annual payroll and an annual economic impact of about $250 million.

Jackson, the unit’s commander, praised much of the report but questioned whether the commission fully researched the recommendation to eliminate Air Force Reserve Command.

“I was disappointed the committee did not visit headquarters,” he said. “Their analysis is not as deep as it should have been.”

Jackson said he learned of the recommendation when he read the report. The report emphasized a need to shift more responsibility to Guard and Reserve forces to save money. Jackson said that’s a good idea and should be implemented.

Many of the recommendations, in fact, are being implemented. The Air Force Reserve Command was created by Congress, however, so it will take a vote of Congress to abolish it.

Much of Georgia’s delegation has come out against it.

Jackson said shifting Reserve forces to active-duty command could seriously impact morale. There are differences in leading part-time forces that active-duty commanders may not fully appreciate, he said.

He is optimistic the recommendation will not be approved.

“I’m pretty confident that I’ve got good, strong support, and this should not be followed,” he said.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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