What an incredible year this has been for the nation and the Air National Guard! The Air Guard continues to serve with distinction at home and abroad. At home, the Hurricane Katrina relief effort brought into sharp focus our role as America’s Hometown Air Force. We flew over 3,000 sorties, moved over 30,000 passengers, and hauled over 11,000 tons of desperately needed supplies. Air Guardsmen saved 1,443 lives-heroically pulling stranded Americans off rooftops to safety. Air National Guard medical units treated over 15,000 patients at eight sites along the Gulf Coast, combining expert medical care with compassion for our fellow Americans.
Abroad, the Air Guard brings the will of the American people to the Global War on Terrorism. The Air Guard fulfills 34 percent of the Air Force’s missions on 7 percent of the Air Force’s budget, a definite bargain in fiscally constrained times. Our contributions over the past four years have been tremendous. Since September 11, 2001, we’ve mobilized over 36,000 members and have flown over 206,000 sorties accumulating over 620,000 flying hours. One-third of the Air Force aircraft in Operation Iraqi Freedom were from the Air Guard. We flew 100 percent of the Operation Enduring Freedom A-10 missions and 66 percent of the Iraqi Freedom A-10 taskings. We accomplished 45 percent of the F-16 sorties. The A-10s flew more combat missions in the Iraqi war than any other weapon system.
We flew 86 percent of the Operation Iraqi Freedom tanker sorties. We accomplished this primarily through the Northeast Tanker Task Force. In keeping with our militia spirit, that task force was initially manned through volunteerism. A total of 18 units supported it; 15 were from the Air National Guard.
Air National Guard Security Forces were the first security forces on the ground in Iraq. Intelligence personnel have been providing unique capabilities for Central Command and organizational support for the U-2, Predator, and Global Hawk. Medical personnel have been using the new Expeditionary Medical Support system capability, providing critical care to the warfighter. Civil Engineers have built bare bases in the desert and trained Iraqi firefighters while Weather personnel worldwide provided over 50 percent of the Army’s weather support. Financial Management personnel have been diligently working to keep benefits moving to our members despite challenging pay, allowance and benefit entitlements and complex administration systems. Air National Guard Command, Control, Communications and Computer personnel have kept vital information flowing on one end of the spectrum and provided Ground Theater Air Control System Personnel on the other. And our tireless chaplains have been providing outstanding spiritual aid out in the field. We have been able to participate at these levels because we provide Expeditionary and Homeland Defense capabilities that are relevant to the nation.
Today as we look toward our future relevancy, having proven ourselves as indispensable and equal Total Force partners, we have to be prepared to transform with the Total Force. We are now in a position to make the decisions that will influence our next evolution … transforming the Air National Guard.
Some of today’s capabilities may not be required in the future. The future Air Force will rely heavily on technological advances in space, command and control, intelligence and reconnaissance systems, information warfare, unmanned aerial vehicles, and the ability to conduct high volume and highly accurate attacks with significantly fewer platforms. For the Air Guard to remain Total Force partners, we have carved out our strategy in those areas and will explore new organizational constructs. Among those constructs are various forms of integrated units where we can combine individual units with other Air Guard units or with another service component. We have to expand our capabilities as joint warfighters and make the necessary changes to integrate seamlessly into the joint warfighting force. To remain relevant we must continue to listen to the messages that are being sent today.
Now is the time for us to lead the way by considering, selecting and implementing new concepts and missions that leverage our unique strengths to improve Total Force capabilities in support of expeditionary roles and homeland defense. This can only be accomplished by involving all Air National Guard stakeholders, working toward a common goal … enhanced capabilities to assure future relevance for the Air National Guard.
By addressing together the complex issues that face us, we will keep the Air National Guard “Ready, Reliable, Essential and Accessible-Needed Now and in the Future.”
Since September 11, 2001, thousands of Air National Guardsmen have been mobilized to operate alert sites and alert support sites for Operation Noble Eagle in support of Homeland Defense. Our Air National Guard has partnered with active duty and reserve forces to provide Combat Air Patrol, random patrols, and aircraft intercept protection for large cities and high-valued assets in response to the increased terrorist threat. The Air National Guard has assumed the responsibility of all ground alert sites and some irregular Combat Air Patrols periods. This partnering agreement maximizes our nation’s current basing locations and capitalizes on the high experience levels within the Air Guard and its professional history in Air Defense operations.
To continue operations at this indefinite pace has posed some unique funding and manning challenges for both the field and headquarters staffs. As we move into the fiscal year 2006 Program Objective Memoranda exercise, the active Air Force and Air National Guard will continue to work towards a permanent solution for our alert force and seek ways to incorporate these temporary Continuum of Service tours into permanent programs.
For the Air Guard, space operations provide a critical communications link to communities throughout the nation in the form of satellite support for everyday uses, television, computers, and wireless phones, but also serve as an important military deterrence from external threats. Colorado’s 137th Space Warning Squadron provides mobile survivable and endurable missile warning capability to U.S. Strategic Command. Recently, Air National Guard units in Wyoming and California have come out of conversion to provide operational command and control support to Northern Command and to provide round-the-clock support to the Milstar satellite constellation. Alaska’s 213th Space Warning Squadron ensures America’s defense against nuclear threat by operating one of our nation’s Solid State Phased Array Radar that provides missile warning and space surveillance.
The Air Force has approved space missions for the 119th Command and Control Squadron in Tennessee to support the U.S. Strategic Command, and the 114th Range Flight in Florida is partnered with an active Air Force unit performing the Launch Range safety mission. There are future plans by the Air Force to transition additional space program missions and assets in Alaska and other states to Air National Guard control.
The Air National Guard has been contributing to the Global War on Terrorism across the full spectrum of operations. During the peak of Operation Iraqi Freedom, we had over 22,000 members mobilized or on volunteer status to support the Global War on Terrorism worldwide. In Operation Iraqi Freedom we flew 43 percent of the fighter sorties, 86 percent of the tanker sorties, 66 percent of the A-10s close air support sorties and 39 percent of the airlift sorties. At the same time we were flying almost 25 percent of the Operation Enduring Freedom fighter sorties and over 20 percent of the tanker sorties.
However, our capabilities do not reside only in aircraft: 15 percent of our expeditionary combat support was engaged during this same period. This includes 60 percent of security forces, many of whom were mobilized for the longest duration. Additionally, about 25 percent of our intelligence, services and weather personnel were mobilized. Logistics and transportation capabilities are vital to homeland defense as well as our expeditionary mission.
Air National Guard men and women are proud to defend and protect our nation at home and abroad. Often, however, support equipment requirements overseas necessitate that equipment remain in place, causing a shortage of equipment for training at home. We are working with Air Force and Defense Department leaders to develop a solution.
The Air National Guard’s Surgeon General led the Air National Guard Medical Service through its most revolutionary transformation in history by reconfiguring its medical capabilities into Expeditionary Medical Support systems. These systems provide highly mobile, integrated and multifunctional medical response capabilities. They are the lightest, leanest and most rapidly deployable medical platforms available to the Air National Guard today. This system is capable of simultaneously providing Expeditionary Combat Support to the warfighter for Air and Space Expeditionary Force missions, Homeland Defense emergency response capabilities to the states and support to the Air National Guard Wings.
The Expeditionary Medical Support capability allowed ten percent of Air National Guard medical unit personnel to deploy for Operation Iraqi Freedom, compared to only three percent in the early 1990s for deployments for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The U.S. Central Command has validated that the Expeditionary Medical Support system is a perfect fit for the Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force Global Strike Task Force and Concept of Operations.
The Expeditionary Medical Support system also plays a critical role in Homeland Defense. The Air National Guard Medical Service plays a vital role in the development and implementation of the National Guard’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and High-Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package. This package will provide support to state and local emergency responders and improve Weapons of Mass Destruction response capabilities in support of the Civil Support Teams. The Air National Guard has contributed to the 12 trained CERFP teams and will build towards 76 Expeditionary Medical Support teams by 2011.
The Guard’s short-term objective is to obtain 20 Small Portable Expeditionary Aerospace Rapid Response equipment sets, two for each Federal Emergency Management Agency region. This would allow for additional reachback capability for the Civil Support Teams and the states. This has been a prelude to the next step in the Air National Guard Medical Service Transformation.
At Readiness Frontiers, over 100 medical planners received Federal Emergency Management Agency training to enhance Air National Guard Medical Service responsiveness to homeland disasters. This is the first time the medical service has taken on an endeavor of this magnitude and allows for future training opportunities in building routine relationships with military, federal and civilian response personnel.
The Air National Guard medical service’s new force structure provided by the Expeditionary Medical Support system delivers standardized and much-improved force health protection, public health, agent detection, and health surveillance capabilities to better support all Air Guard Wings. This will enhance the protection of the wings’ resources and improve the medical readiness of its personnel.
The Air National Guard’s Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance personnel and systems play an increasingly important role in the defense of our nation. Air Guard men and women are essential to support Global Hawk, Predator, and U-2 collection missions.
Due to a significant increase in Air Force mission requirements, the Air Guard continues to expand its intelligence collection and production capability. The Air Guard has also expanded its imagery intelligence capability through the use of Eagle Vision, which is a deployable commercial imagery downlink and exploitation system. This system provides valuable support to aircrew mission planning and targeting, as well as imagery support to natural disasters and terrorism.
Other developing Air Force capabilities entrusted to the Air National Guard include the F-16 Theater Airborne Reconnaissance System and the C-130 SCATHE VIEW tactical imagery collection system. The Theater Airborne Reconnaissance System will be improved to provide near-real-time support to warfighter “kill-chain” operations in day-night, all weather conditions. SCATHE VIEW provides a near-real-time imaging capability to support humanitarian relief and non-combatant evacuation operations. To support signal intelligence collection requirements, the Air Guard continues to aggressively upgrade the SENIOR SCOUT platform. SENIOR SCOUT remains the primary collection asset to support the nation’s war on drugs and the Global War on Terrorism in the southern hemisphere.
The National Guard Bureau has a fundamental responsibility to ensure that the men and women of the Air Guard are properly trained to meet the challenges they will face to protect and defend this country. This can be done through the effective development and management of special use airspace and ranges. To support this training requirement, the Air Guard is responsible for 14 air-to-ground bombing ranges, four Combat Readiness Training Centers, and the Air Guard Special Use Airspace infrastructure.
To ensure that our units remain ready and relevant, they must have access to adequate training airspace and ranges that meet the demands of evolving operational requirements. The National and Regional Airspace and Range Councils, co-chaired by both the Air Guard and the Air Force, continue to identify and resolve airspace and range issues that affect combat capability and are engaged with the Federal Aviation Administration in the redesign of the National Airspace System.
The four Combat Readiness Training Centers provide an integrated, year-round, realistic training environment (airspace, ranges, systems, facilities, and equipment), which enables military units to enhance their combat capability at a deployed, combat-oriented operating base and provide training opportunities that cannot be effectively accomplished at the home station. As such, these centers are ideal assets for the Joint National Training Capability. The centers offer an effective mix of live, virtual and constructive simulation training. The Air National Guard continues to pursue National Training Capability certification for these centers and ranges.
It is imperative to the warfighter that the Air Guard maintains its training superiority. As the warfighting transformation and joint operational requirements evolve, it is essential that the airspace and range infrastructure be available to support that training. There are challenges. The Air National Guard has a shortfall in electronic warfare training. To keep our Citizen-Airmen trained to the razor’s edge, we must have the Joint Threat Emitter to simulate the various surface to air missile and anti-aircraft artillery threats that any future conflict might present.
The Air National Guard is a solid partner with the Air Force, the Air Force Reserve, and the Department of Defense. The Defense Department’s priority is Transformation … and therefore it is the priority of the active services and the reserve components.
The Air Force is pursuing innovative organizational constructs and personnel policies to meld the various components into a single, unified force. Ongoing shifts in global conflict and U.S. strategy suggest an increasing attention to activities such as homeland defense, nation-building, and others that may require different mixes of capability that are not necessarily resident at sufficient levels in the active component. This “Future Total Force” integration will create efficiencies, cut costs, ensure stability, retain invaluable human capital, and, above all, increase our combat capabilities.
One example of this transformational initiative is the proposed movement of Air National Guard manpower to Langley AFB, an active duty base, from Richmond, an Air National Guard base, with the intent of leveraging the high experience of Guard personnel to improve the combat capability for the active force.
Another transformation effort is to “integrate,” where sensible, units from two or more components into a single wing with a single commander. Active, Guard, and Reserve personnel share the same facilities and equipment, and together, execute the same mission. This is a level of integration unmatched in any of the Services.
The Air National Guard is working to embed new and innovative capabilities into the force. These include: Predator unit equipped and associate, Global Hawk, Deployable Ground Stations/Distributed Common Ground System, F-15 Aggressor, C-130 Flying Training, Cryptological and Linguist Training, Expeditionary Combat Support, as well as support to Joint Forces with Battlefield Airmen, Air Operations Centers, Warfighting Headquarters, Space Control and Operations.
On November 25, 2004, the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Air Force outlined a Total Force vision for Air Guard Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance by calling for the standup of two MQ-1 Predator flying units in Texas and Arizona by June 2006 to help fill worldwide Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition requirements. Air Guard Predator operations will first fill worldwide theater requirements, but will also likely evolve into providing direct defense for the Homeland in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Northern Command.
Adoption of emerging missions by Air National Guard units promotes all three National Guard priorities for the future. The addition of new weapons systems to the Air Guard provides essential capabilities that enable homeland defense and homeland security missions. New systems including RQ/MQ-1 Predator, and RQ-4 Global Hawk, provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities to Air National Guard forces. Other capabilities, such as air operations center support, will provide ready experience in planning, command and control, and mission leadership that will be invaluable in federal/state mission capable units.
The Air National Guard modernization program is a capabilities-based effort to keep the forces in the field relevant, reliable and ready for any missions tasked by the state or federal authorities. As a framework for prioritization, the modernization program is segmented into three time frames: short-term, the current and next year’s Defense budget; medium-term, out to fiscal year 2015; and long-term, out to fiscal year 2025 and beyond.
The Air National Guard remains an equal partner with the Air and Space Expeditionary Forces that are tasked to meet the future challenges and missions. Budget constraints require the Air Guard to maximize combat capability for every dollar spent. The Air National Guard includes all aircraft, ground command and control systems, and training and simulation systems in this modernization effort. The requirements necessary to focus this effort must be grounded in clearly defined combat capabilities and missions.
The following summarizes the Air National Guard’s force posture by weapons system:
The E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System remains a highly coveted asset by all combatant commanders. It provides wide theater surveillance of ground moving targets operated by the first-ever blended wing of Air National Guard, Air Force and Army, the 116th Air Control Wing, at Robins AFB, Ga. Keeping the system modernized while maintaining the current high Operations Tempo in combat theaters will be a continuing challenge in the future. The most urgent modernization needs for the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System include re-engining, radar upgrades, installation of the Traffic Alert Collision Avoidance System, and integration of a self-protection suite.
The A-10 remains the only Air Force fighter/attack aircraft operating out of Afghanistan today. Six Air Guard squadrons account for 38 percent of combat-coded A-10s in the Combat Air Force. The A-10 is undergoing modification to modernize the cockpit, provide a data link, improve targeting pod integration, and add Joint Direct Attack Munitions capability. Future improvements to the A-10 include a SATCOM radio, an updated Lightweight Airborne Recovery System for combat search and rescue missions, and improved threat detection. Recent conflicts highlighted a thrust performance deficiency making upgrading the TF-34-100A engine a priority.
Air National Guard F-16s continued to provide crucial combat capabilities during 2005 in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Noble Eagle. The Block 25/30/32 F-16 continued its modernization program by fielding the Commercial Central Interface Unit, Color Multi-Function Displays and AIM-9X while pursuing future integration of the Radar Modernized Programmable Signal Processor, Advanced Identification Friend or Foe, Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System and the smart triple ejector rack. The Block 52 F-16s are nearly finished with their Common Configuration Implementation Program that brought these systems and LINK16 capabilities to their fleet. Air Guard Block 42 F-16s will begin their common configuration upgrades later this year.
The F-15 modernization includes the continued installation of the BOL Infrared countermeasures improvements system, continued delivery of upgraded engine kits and installation of the Multifunctional Information Distribution System Fighter Data Link. The next upgrades include the retrofit of a permanent night vision cockpit lighting system, continued integration and purchase of the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System, and the delivery of the replacement Identify Friend or Foe system.
The HC-130 is completing installation of the Forward Looking Infrared system, an essential capability during combat rescue operations. The HC-130 starts integration and installation of the Large Aircraft Infrared Counter Measure system, increasing survivability in face of the ever-increasing threat from hand-held missiles.
The HH-60 program started installation of the new M3M .50 caliber door gun, replaced personal equipment for the pararescue jumpers with state-of-the-art weapons and technologies. The initiation of the HH-60 replacement program will begin to slow any further modernization.
C-130 enhancements included the multi-command Avionics Modernization Program which upgraded nearly 500 aircraft to a modern, more sustainable cockpit. Additionally, the Air National Guard continued acquisition of the AN/APN-241 Low Power Color Radar, continued installation of the Night Vision Imaging System, and the Air National Guard-driven development of Scathe View to include various technological spin-offs having application in a myriad of civilian and military efforts. Other Air Guard programs include the AN/AAQ-24 (V) Directional Infrared Countermeasures System, propeller upgrades like the Electronic Propeller Control System and NP2000 eight-bladed propeller, and a second generation, upgraded Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System. Additionally, the Air National Guard partnered with the Air Force for the first multiyear buy of the new C-130J aircraft to replace the aging C-130E fleet.
The KC-135 weapons system completed the installation of the cockpit upgrade and continued the engine upgrades to the R-model. The KC-135 continued to be the air bridge for the multiple combat deployments across the globe. Keeping the aging fleet modernized will continue to challenge the Air National Guard as the refueling operations evolve to meet the next mission.
The Air National Guard Modernization Program is key in continuing to field a relevant combat capability, ensuring dominance of American air power for the next 15 to 20 years. We must sustain an open and honest dialogue from the warfighter through Congress, in order to maximize the investment of precious and limited resources.
Our personnel are our greatest asset and force multiplier. To capitalize on their talents, the Air National Guard has implemented a new force development structure to get the right people in the right job, at the right time, with the right skills, knowledge and experience. We are taking a deliberate approach to develop officers, enlisted, and civilians by combining focused assignments with education and training opportunities to prepare our people to meet the Air National Guard needs. Through targeted education, training, and mission-related experience, we will develop professional Airmen into joint force warriors with the skills needed across all levels of conflict. This is at the “heart” of our Officer and Enlisted Force Development plans. These plans are a critical communication tool to capture the member’s “career” development ideas, desired career path choices, assignment, and developmental education preferences. The bottom-line of our Force Development efforts is to provide an effects- and competency-based development process by connecting the depth of expertise in the individual’s primary career field with the appropriate education, training, and experience. The desired effect is to produce more capable and diversified leaders.
Recruiting quality applicants and taking care of our people will be key in maintaining the end strength numbers needed to accomplish our HLD missions, our successful transformation, and our support to the war fighter. Air National Guard retention remains at an all-time high. However, recruiting is a challenge, as the parents, teachers, and counselors now play a larger role in their child’s decision to join the military. Therefore, the Air National Guard expanded funding of thirty eight storefront recruiting offices. These offices offer a less imposing sales environment than the traditional flying wing location.
As part of the Total Force, the Air National Guard realizes it is essential that we transform into an effects-based, efficient provider of human combat capability for our warfighters, partners, and our Nation. Our Vision and Strategic Plan sets the transformational flight-path for the personnel community in support of the Air Expeditionary Force, security for the homeland, our states’ missions, and roles in the community. Furthermore, we will advance our continued commitment to a diverse Air National Guard, not just in gender and ethnicity, but in thought, creativity, education, culture, and problem-solving capabilities.
The Air National Guard Enterprise Network is critical to the successful transmission of information within a unit, between units, and among the various states. We are making progress towards modernizing our nationwide information technology network that serves a vital role in homeland security and national defense. A healthy and robust network for reliable, available and secure information technology is essential to federal and state authorities in their ability to exercise command and control of information resources that potentially could impact their various constituencies.
Greater emphasis must be placed on maturing the Air National Guard Enterprise Network. The rapidly changing hardware and software requirements of our warfighting and combat support functions come with a significant cost to upgrade and maintain a fully capable Information Technology network. The Air Guard network has typically been supported at the same level it was during the 1990s. Without a significant infusion of resources to acquire new technology, our ability to accomplish other missions will suffer. Modernization of the Air National Guard Enterprise Network will enhance interoperability with other federal and state agencies.
The Air National Guard will continue to defend the nation in the War on Terrorism while transforming for the future. We will do this across the full spectrum of operations in both the Expeditionary and Homeland Defense missions. The Air National Guard will also continue to draw upon our militia culture and linkage to the community as we execute our multiple missions and roles. The men and women of the Air Guard are currently serving proudly in the far corners of the globe-and here at home-and will continue to do so with distinction.
Today’s guardsmen and women are your doctors, lawyers, police officers, cooks, teachers, and factory workers, white and blue-collar workers. They are your civilians in peace; Airmen in war-we guard America’s skies.