Thursday, October 08, 2009

Gen. Wyatt: Associate missions must continue

The Air National Guard's associate missions with the active duty and Air Force Reserve need to continue beyond the new missions formed after Base Realignment and Closure in 2005, the director of the Air Guard said here Oct. 6.

Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III told members of the Minuteman Institute for National Defense Studies that the Air Guard's "great talent" flowed into new, associate missions following BRAC, thanks to its participation in total force integration.

"Those were the days where it was easy to put together an association, because the Air Guard after BRAC had manpower available ... and so there were opportunities to do what Guardsmen do and to transition and adapt and move into these new mission sets and form these units," said Wyatt, who sat on a BRAC Total Force steering committee at that time.

Air Guard officials said TFI aligns the Air Force's equipment, missions, infrastructure and manpower to use assets effectively and efficiently.

"Total force" has been a Department of Defense policy for more than 35 years, but associate units surged in the early 2000s.

Three of the Air Guard's newest associate wings officially stood up Oct. 1, including the 126th Air Refueling Wing at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., the 157th Air Refueling Wing at Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., and the 117th Air Refueling Wing at Birmingham ANGB, Ala. Those units conduct aerial refueling missions with the KC-135 Stratotankers.

The Air Guard leads 66 other TFI initiatives, but not all of those initiatives involve associate units. Officials said the latest chief of staff of the Air Force-approved TFI list contains 138 TFI initiatives, of which 96 impact the Air Guard.

"We need to continue doing that," General Wyatt said.

General Wyatt also pointed out that new weapons systems operate 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year as opposed to dated concepts of an eight-hour-a-day work cycle. Those systems, he said, require the manpower available to run them and their support missions.

"If we don't go to TFI constructs, and if we don't get the Guard concurrently and proportionally bedded down in this new capability, we will find ourselves limited, not by the platform, but limited by the manpower available to fly the mission," General Wyatt said.