2008: Once more, the U.S. Air Force was reminded that its reserve pilots tend
to be more capable than their active duty counterparts. The recently concluded
"Buff Smoke" competition, in which active duty and reserve B-52 crews
competed to test their skills, saw reservists walk away with the top prizes.
Similar results have been encountered in the annual Gunsmoke (fighter pilot)
and Hawg Smoke (A-10 ground attack pilots) contests.
pilots are former active duty pilots, many of them with more than two decades of
service. These pilots often left active duty to fly as commercial pilots, but
joined the reserves so they could continue to fly the more exciting military
aircraft they had spent years working with. While the reservists don't fly as
many hours (in military aircraft) as their active duty counterparts, they do
have experience, and are more mature in years. Reservist bomber crews also tend
to stay together longer, and this improves their teamwork and overall
The army has
found the same pattern with combat troops. Reservist tank and artillery crews
often best their active duty counterparts in competitions. The Israeli
military, which is largely a reservist force, emphasizes this aspect, and
expects artillery and tank crews, as well as infantry units, to stay together
for years and build their team spirit and capabilities.