AFRC Community Spotlight: HQ RIO

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Rob Hazelett
  • Air Reserve Personnel Center Public Affairs
The Headquarters Individual Reservist Readiness and Integration Organization, located within the Headquarters Air Reserve Personnel Center on Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, is led by Col. Carolyn Stickell, commander.

The organization is responsible for the readiness, accountability, personnel and administrative servicing of more than 8,000 Individual Reservists worldwide. This includes 2,700 enlisted and 4,500 officers. IRs support more than 50 major commands, combatant commands and government agencies spread across 43 states, 13 countries, and Washington D.C.

HQ RIO’s mission is to seamlessly integrate war-time ready Individual Reserve forces to meet Air Force and combatant commander requirements. Supporting this effort are 178 staff members spread across the headquarters, seven detachments and eight operating locations.

“The RIO mission provides an outstanding example of the Total Force concept. We support Reservists who train side by side with their active duty counterparts and who are ready to step in full-time and fulfill that mission on a moment’s notice” Stickell said. “There is a tremendous amount of talent that contributes every day to the success of our IR force, and I feel privileged to lead an organization that makes such a big difference in the lives of our members and in the defense of our nation.”

Domestically, RIO helps the warfighter fly, fight and win by augmenting the active duty mission either in a full time or part time status. Our individual reservists help carry on the mission during wartime or deployed operations either by deploying as an embedded member of the AD unit or by continuing domestic operations while the unit is deployed, Stickell said.

HQ RIO first opened its doors for business and began assuming management of the IR force Feb. 1, 2014. The transition continued over the next several months, and the unit officially activated Oct. 1, 2014.

“The most challenging part of being the senior leader of RIO is trying to ensure our IRs know where to go if they need help, especially when that help involves Reserve specific programs. Our detachments have all kinds of resources at their disposal and we also have an awesome website and mobile app, but trying to communicate with over 8,000 people scattered across the globe who may only be on duty 24 days a year can be challenging,” Stickell said. “The other challenge is the shared administrative control I have with the AD units our IRs belong to. IRs are actually AD assets. Some units do a phenomenal job of caring for their Reservists, but other units don’t really understand the IR program very well. They don’t really understand how to use their Reservists as Total Force multipliers, and they may not fully understand their role in integrating these members. So I have to keep working with these units to teach them how to best care for their IR force.”

She said the most rewarding part of leading the RIO team is seeing the incredible contributions our Reservists are making to the mission, and working with the incredibly professional men and women of HQ RIO who go to great lengths each and every day to support our IRs and their active duty units.

“The members of HQ RIO go above and beyond to make sure our IRs are where they need to be when the active component needs them,” she said.

In order to have a successful career, Reservists are encouraged to complete assignments across a spectrum of opportunities. As a Reservist progresses, he or she should seek tours in each of four “pillars”: Command, Joint, the National Capital Region and Above Wing Level. The Command Pillar involves the opportunity to serve as Commander of a unit. The Joint Pillar involves serving in an assignment with other services, such as the Army or Navy. The National Capital Region Pillar is fulfilled by a tour in the Washington, D.C. area, and the Above Wing Level Pillar is completed via an assignment in a unit higher than a Wing.

“One thing I’d like to highlight is that for part-time Reservists, which include both the IRs and Traditional Reserve forces, the IR program is the primary way for Reservists to accomplish three out of four pillars,” she said. “The vast majority of joint, NCR and above wing level positions are only available through the IR program.”

HQ RIO is making a concentrated effort to make things easier for their IRs.

“From applying for vacant positions to improving the orders approval process, we’re focused on making things better,” Stickell said. “I am so proud of our IR force. They are tremendous force multipliers, despite the challenges of balancing the demands of Reserve duty, a civilian career and family life. They make tremendous sacrifices to serve as Citizen Airmen, and we are working incredibly hard to support them.”

Click on the following link to view the video: AFRC Community Spotlight HQ RIO