By Col. Mark E. Bartman, 180th Fighter Wing
/ Published November 18, 2009
December 2009 -- Throughout the history of the ANG as a strategic reserve, we have routinely received "new" equipment only after the active duty Air Force no longer had a use for it. Since the first Desert Storm in 1991, the Air Force has been more willing to provide equipment that is on a comparable basis with the equipment used on active duty. As we, the ANG, have moved more and more to an operational reserve, our requirements to be outfitted with the same equipment has become more and more critical.
I'm sure that most of you know that the ANG is a major player in the ability of today's Air Force to prosecute the Global War on Terror whether through Global Reach or projection of Global Power. For those who may not be aware of the ANG's current contribution, the ANG provides 30% of the fighterattack force, 30% of the airlift, 40% of the air refueling capability, 15% of the rescue force and 9% of the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capability.
Because the ANG is now more of an operational reserve than a strategic reserve, and we have equipment that is some of the oldest in the AF inventory, it is critically important that the active duty AF understand that we must be upgraded sooner, rather than later. Consequently the terms "concurrent" and "proportional" have become the new bumper sticker for the ANG in the halls of the Pentagon. To keep it as simple as I can, concurrent means that any new equipment (i.e. aircraft like the F-35 or KC-X) will be fielded to the ANG at the same time as it is delivered to the active duty Air Force. Proportional simply means that any equipment will be delivered to the ANG in the same proportion as our current AD/ANG mix (i.e. 30% fighter force, then 30% of F-35's will go to ANG). Of course, the Combat Air Forces is not the only issue. The ANG must also insist the active duty recognizes the same recapitalization of our Military Airlift and Refueling fleet, ISR capabilities, Communication equipment, etc.
The recent announcements of the initial bases to be considered for the F-35 is a perfect example of how successful the ANG has been in the last few months convincing the Air Force leadership that concurrent and proportional recapitalization is important and must be followed for the future of our Active, and Reserve Air Forces to survive. Out of the eleven bases announced for basing consideration of the F-35, five of the bases were ANG locations. My personal opinion is that we here in Toledo are well positioned for the future and will continue to work hard to bring the F-35 to the 180th FW at some point.
Ok, so we've been successful so far, but what does that mean for the future of the ANG? Some of the realizations that we must face are the following: F-35 production will most likely not allow every current ANG F-16/A-10/F-15 unit to convert to the F-35, some of these units will need to pursue other missions over the next 10-15 years; missions must match the community strengths (i.e. can the mission be recruited and sustained within the local area); all ANG bases must recognize and embrace their role of domestic response in every FEMA region; and finally that missions will drive manpower realignments throughout the country. Your senior leadership at all levels is actively engaged to solve some of these challenging issues.
To provide additional details, I recently recorded a video for all 180th members that deals with the recent F-35 basing announcements. I encourage you all to review the video, ask questions of your leadership and stay involved and engaged through those councils and organizations that can make a difference in tomorrow's ANG.
Finally, I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday season, and a very prosperous New Year. And one more thing: Let's get an Outstanding on our ORI next summer and help out those decision makers at the Pentagon realize which Wing really is the best!