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Fri, Sep 30, 2011

Wyatt: Air Guard Is Affordable, Operational, Accessible

Remarks Made During Speech At Air Force Air And Space Conference

The Air National Guard is the affordable, operational, fully accessible force the Air Force needs during uncertain economic times, the director of the Air National Guard Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt said in a speech to the Air Force Association’s 2011 Air & Space Conference and Technology and Exposition held in Maryland. "The Air Guard provides to the United States Air Force 34 percent of the combat capability on seven percent of the budget," he said. "I like where the Air National Guard is positioned."

Lt. General Harry Wyatt

In his remarks, Wyatt explained how the Air Guard has, is, and will continue to be America's homeland force with a federal capability. "It started in the mid-1990s when the Air Force recognized that (they) could no longer afford the luxury of having an operational force and a strategic reserve force that could be placed on the shelf."

After the first Gulf War and Operations Northern Watch and Southern Watch in Southwest Asia, the active-duty forces were beginning to stretch thin trying to do all the missions the U.S. expected the Air Force to do. The Air Force turned to the Air Guard to join in the fight. But equipment, training and funding for the Air Guard at that time was nowhere near what it would need to be to achieve those missions, Wyatt said. "Think of the transition the Air Guard has made since I joined in 1977 when it was a strategic reserve, to what the Guard did on Sept. 11, 2001, to what the Guard has done for the last 10 years to today," he said.

The Air Guard is present in the majority of Air Force missions with a fraction of the cost, Wyatt said:

  • 43 percent of the air-refueling mission.
  • 33 percent of the fighter mission.
  • 30 percent of the cargo and transport mission.
  • 20 percent of the remotely piloted aircraft mission.
  • 20 percent of the distributive common ground station mission.

The Air Guard operates 66 of 89 wings off of civilian airfields for about the same amount of money as it costs to run a large Air Force base, Wyatt said. "And we're dispersed in 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. We are an operational force."

Wyatt said based on the facts -- the cost effectiveness, preparation, skill levels, experience, training, quality of Guard members both officer and enlisted -- that should be all that is needed in any debate of whether or not the Guard is fully operational. "I've told my Airmen that the Air National Guard is positioned exactly where it needs to be at this critical time to provide the most combat capability for the least amount of money," he said.

Wyatt said he does not want the Defense Department to look at these numbers and think the Air Force needs to shrink in size, just continue to utilize the Guard to fill the holes and shrink the budget. "I'm not advocating reducing the active-duty end strength," he said. "I am advocating looking at the platforms that we have ... instead of doing what we normally do in times like this- -make all the components smaller. We have an opportunity to not make this United States Air Force smaller, but with a little bit of force structure adjustment, maybe maintain those highly trained combat-skilled warriors that reside in our United States Air Force right now," he said.

ANN Salutes Tech. Sgt. John Orrell National Guard Bureau Public Affairs

FMI: www.af.mil

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