180th Fighter Wing Slated to Become Active Associate Wing

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Beth Holliker
  • 180th FW Public Affaris
The 180th Fighter Wing, Ohio Air National Guard, is slated to become an Active Associate unit in Fiscal Year 2016, as part of the U.S. Air Force Total Force Integration concept, adding active duty pilots and maintenance personnel to the wing's authorized manning document.

The 180th Fighter Wing became the first Ohio National Guard unit in history to become part of the Air Force's Total Force Integration concept when the wing was assigned an active duty commander in March.

Col. Craig R. Baker, former vice wing commander for the 57th Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, assumed command of the 180th Fighter Wing during a change of command ceremony March 2, 2014.

Baker's assignment to the 180th Fighter Wing aligns with the Air Force goal to increase overall integration between the Active Duty Component, or AC, and the Air Reserve Components, referred to as ARC, and comprised of the Air Force Reserves and the Air National Guard.

The assignment of Baker to the 180th Fighter Wing is laying the foundation for the wing's future role in the Total Force plan, beginning in the first quarter of FY 2016, when the four active duty pilots and 40 active duty maintenance personnel will be added to the wing's existing authorized manning document.

"Col. Baker's selection was borne out of the desire to more closely integrate the three components," said Maj. Gen. Mark E. Bartman, Assistant Adjutant General for Air, Ohio National Guard. "One method to that end is through the integration of leadership positions."

Bartman was the ANG representative for the Total Force Task Force, TF2, made up of three two-star generals, now known as the Total Force Continuum, or TFC. The task force, now made up of three one-star generals, one from each Air Force Component, is charged with providing guidance on how to bring the three components together as One Air Force.

"As One Air Force, we will continue to integrate the staffs of Air Force units and organizations from squadron levels to headquarters levels," Bartman explained. "The most effective method for our Airmen to better understand their counterparts in the other components will be a deliberate process of allowing seamless movement between the components."

Since the end of World War II, the nation has maintained separate identities for the National Guard and Reserves despite several attempts at mergers to include a 1947 recommendation to abolish the National Guard and the 1964 recommendation to merge reserve components of the Army under the National Guard, as annotated in the January 2014 report by the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force.

Though the Air Force associated a Reserve unit with an Active in 1968, where both units flew and maintained the same aircraft, the TF concept was officially introduced, and met with opposition in 1973, when Defense Secretary, James Schlesinger, developed the Total Force Policy, highlighting recommendations to integrate RC forces and AC forces, blurring the distinction between components.

Total Force gained more visibility in the 1990s with large-scale National Guard deployments in support of the Gulf War. Since the Gulf War's Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, the Air Force has continued to welcome the transformation and evolution of the reserve components from a strategic and ready reserve force to the operationally capable and readily available force we know today.

Today, with ever evolving mission demands, coupled with fiscal constraints, the foundation of the TF concept is finally beginning to take shape.

"The Air Force must change the way it organizes, functionally integrates, aligns and employs the great Americans who volunteer to serve in its ranks," National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force.

The initial stages of the TF construct are to provide the basic framework, while the details of the over 40 suggested recommendations from the Commission report, presented to President Barack Obama and Congress in January, 2014, are being fine-tuned and implemented.

The Commission recommended two major changes. The first is to increase the number of associate units throughout the Air Force. Today, the Air Force has 120 current or planned association units.

This recommendation would shift the force structure to focus greater reliance on the ANG and AFR, expanding multi-component operations, enhancing the TF and One Air Force concepts. The intent of this recommendation would lower overall military personnel costs, produce a more ready and capable force by preserving funds for readiness operations, maintenance, recapitalization and modernization.

The TF concept pairs two units, a host and an associate, representing two of the Air Force's three components, Active Duty, Reserve and Guard, operating together to enhance the ability of the Air Force to conduct missions through the sharing of resources and utilizing the seasoned RC personnel to aid in the training and growing of AC Airmen.

Association units primarily fit into one of three types: Classic Association, where RC units collocate with AC units; Active Association, where AC units collocate and jointly operate aircraft on a RC base; and Air Reserve Component Association, where ANG and AFR units are collocated and share equipment.

The second recommendation is that all associate wings implement and maintain a single, integrated chain of command, resulting in a fully integrated wing, or i-Wing.

In the more well-known Classic Association, where RC units are physically collocated on AD installations, both the RC and AC units maintain their separate reporting instructions through their Major Command, or MAJCOMs, with their own individual chains of command and local commanders.

"The long-term goal of the i-Wing model is one team made up of the three components integrated at all levels," said Baker. "The concept is that the wing would be commanded by a member of any component, which will reduce chain of command confusion, duplicative overhead and the number of bosses overall."

Increased use of the i-Wing structure, coupled with future changes to the Active and Reserve component end strengths, the number of personnel authorized by legislation for a given fiscal year, will enhance the Force's ability to scale available forces to meet continually changing mission demands and fiscal constraints.

Baker's assignment as commander of an ANG wing is also being used as a test measure to identify potential challenges and develop effective solutions for Airmen transitioning between the Active and Reserve Components.

Airmen assigned to the AC fall under Title 10, active duty federal funding under the U.S. Code and are exclusively a federal organization.

Members of the ANG fall under the Title 32 category, but with additional complexity. ANG units fulfill both federal and state missions, but report directly to their state's Governor and are manned by a mix of full-time, Active Guard Reserve and Dual Status Federal Technicians, and part-time personnel, referred to as Drill Status Guardsmen.

Though ANG Airmen report directly to the governor during normal day-to-day operations, they can easily transition to Title 10, active duty status, in times of war or national emergencies when AC forces are insufficient or unavailable, upon collaboration with individual state governors.

The ANG's unique mission of supporting their state, communities and the homeland allows for the governor to activate ANG members within their respective state to provide Defense Support to Civil Authorities in response to natural and man-made disasters.

Because state governors are essential stakeholders of the Air Force they are becoming more involved as the TF concept begins to rapidly take shape and the One Air Force concept becomes a reality.

"The process used to assess Col. Baker to the Ohio National Guard is one that will be duplicated many times over for both AC Airmen moving to the RC, as well as RC Airmen moving to the AC," Bartman said. "Currently, the process requires the governor of the state involved and the Secretary of Defense to sign a letter of agreement, or LOA, enabling AC Airmen to hold a dual commission in both the Title 10 status and Title 32 status."

The fiscal appropriations, personnel processes and pay statuses are not the only differences or challenges that will be faced as the 180th Fighter Wing and the Air Force continue to move toward the fully operational construct.

"Historically, the RC was intended to provide a strategic reserve, called upon only in a time of war or national emergency, when AC forces were insufficient or unavailable," explained Bartman. "Numerous federal laws were drafted with the strategic reserve in mind. In today's environment, characterized by an increased utilization of the RC, some of these laws impede efforts to move to a 'One Air Force' solution."

"Some of these laws need to be amended to allow the three components of the Air Force to work together to provide the world's best airpower and homeland defense in a fiscally responsible way," continued Bartman.

The transition for Baker is still ongoing, but is providing the task force with the information necessary to develop and execute solutions for those challenges not identified during the initial planning and staffing process.

"Challenges to the long term vision effect not only my transition, but the whole process," said Baker. "These challenges include separate AC and RC funding appropriations, making complete integration impossible under current law; statutes that restrict the use of fulltime RC forces which are not fully interchangeable with active personnel at home station; budgetary challenges hinder Military Personnel Appropriations funding for home station operations; and pay, promotion and assignment systems are not fully interoperable between AC and RC personnel."

The One Air Force initiative is not only geared toward maximizing effective use of the three components, sharing personnel and equipment to meet mission requirements, it is also a solution to meet the Defense Strategic Guidance directive for the Department of Defense to continue efforts to reduce the cost of doing business.

"Our military has an imperative to spend resources in a fiscally responsible way," Bartman said. "The necessity to reduce cost is, perhaps, the most compelling catalyst for examining the mix of Active and Reserve Components."

Though there remain differences in personnel pay statuses and mission sets between the AC and RC, the Commission concluded that, when used in the traditional part-time or rotational basis, the RC is significantly less expensive than an AC force of the same size.

The RC requires fewer Airmen to be trained from the "ground up," as many of its part-time Airmen have civilian occupations closely aligned with their Air Force career field and training from one occupation is mutually beneficial to the other. These part-time Airmen are only paid by the Air Force when preforming their military duties on a periodic or rotational basis. The RC also has access to seasoned Airmen transitioning from the AC to the RC who require less periodic, or refresher training, to maintain war-ready skill-sets.

The Commission also highlights that traditional, part-time, Airmen in the RC are entitled to retirement benefits, but cannot receive them until the age of 60 and are not supported throughout their careers in the same way AC Airmen are. Reserve Component Airmen do not have base housing or child care provided, or schools, health care or Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities that are provided to AC Airmen and included in the cost of maintaining the AC force.

"As a member of the ANG, you live off of the local economy," Baker explained. "There is no base housing, commissary, hospital, pool or golf course provided on the installation."

The Commission determined that, based on research and testimonies at the time, the cost of a part-time RC Airman, who is not preforming active missions throughout the year, is approximately 1/6th the cost of an AC Airman.

"The National Guard, primarily a part-time force, is held to the same readiness standards as the AC, continues to demonstrate their readiness capabilities, execute missions in an unprecedented manner, both at home and abroad. And, because all three components are required to maintain the same standards, they should be viewed as a system of systems based on a symbiotic or mutually beneficial relationship," continued Bartman. "When the service is imbalanced, the benefits of the relationship dissipate."

Bartman continued to explain, "A part-time force, by nature, is a less costly force, but the more it is used, the less cost advantageous it becomes. Likewise, an AC force that is too large can become characterized by extraordinary costs. There are numerous gives and takes impacted by changes to force mix and each of those implications must be considered."

The Total Force initiative is well underway throughout the Air Force today, but the expected pace of operations over the next decade will be a significant driver in determining an appropriate mix of AC and RC forces and the necessary level of readiness required by the RC.

The 180th Fighter Wing is already marking its place in history and finding its place in the Total Force Initiative with its first AC commander.

"While there will be challenges moving forward toward an Active Associate wing, there is no doubt that the men and women of the 180th Fighter Wing will prove successful in leading the way for the Total Force," said Baker.

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