The Officer March/April 2011 : Page-38
OperatiOnal air The Air National Guard Faces Budget Challenges While Maintaining an Operational Posture. An rOA Discussion With Lt Gen harry M. Wyatt, Director, Air National Guard The Officer: can you describe the current battlefield landscape, particularly with the drawdown in iraq and increased operations in Afghanistan? how does that compare to the op-tempo and responsibilities of the past couple of years? Lt Gen HArry M. WyATT I think we’re at a point in our history, kind of a transition point. If you go back and look at the history of the Air Guard, initially [in] 1947 [it was] created as a strategic reserve, flying a generation of equipment older than the Active Component’s. We existed that way for a long time. [Over] the past 20 years, we have evolved into an operational force. We comprise about one-third of the Air Force capability, and that’s been by design. If you talk to [Air Force Chief of Staff] Gen [Norman] Schwartz or Secretary [of the Air Force Michael] Donley, they would tell you the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve are an integral part of the Total Force, because that’s the way the Air Force designed it. I think it was probably out of a little bit of necessity coming out of the first Gulf War; the demand for Air Force capabilities worldwide exceeded the resources that were available in the Active Component. So, the Air National Guard stepped up, along with the Air Force Reserve, and took on a larger operational role. Now we are at that point in time where we are transitioning out of Iraq into Afghanistan, and we see some of our forces shifting from one theater to the next. What people sometimes forget is that there is a huge demand for Air Force capabilities worldwide. And so the Air National Guard helps the Air Force fulfill some of those requirements, too. We’ve got to take a look at—as we come out of a lot of [overseas contingency operation (OCO)] funding—resorting to a time when we’re not going to have as much supplemental funding for operations worldwide. And for us to continue to be operational, we’ve got to make O fficer / M arch –a pril 2011 sure that our baseline budget, our organized training and equipment budget, is large enough written into the Air Force’s budget so that we can continue to be operational and provide the capability that the Air Force needs. 38 the
Gen Harry M. Wyatt
The Air National Guard Faces Budget Challenges While Maintaining an Operational Posture.
An rOA Discussion With Lt Gen harry M. Wyatt, Director, Air National Guard
The Officer: can you describe the current battlefield landscape, particularly with the draw down in iraq and increased operations in Afghanistan? How does that compare to the op-tempo and responsibilities of the past couple of years?
Lt Gen Harry M. WyATT
I think we’re at a point in our history, kind of a transition point. If you go back and look at the history of the Air Guard, initially [in] 1947 [it was] created as a strategic reserve, flying a generation of equipment older than the Active Component’s.We existed that way for a long time. [Over] the past 20 years, we have evolved into an operational force. We comprise about one-third of the Air Force capability, and that’s been by design.If you talk to [Air Force Chief of Staff] Gen [Norman] Schwartz or Secretary [of the Air Force Michael] Donley, they would tell you the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve are an integral part of the Total Force, because that’s the way the Air Force designed it. I think it was probably out of a little bit of necessity coming out of the first Gulf War; the demand for Air Force capabilities worldwide exceeded the resources that were available in the Active Component. So, the Air National Guard stepped up, along with the Air Force Reserve, and took on a larger operational role.
Now we are at that point in time where we are transitioning out of Iraq into Afghanistan, and we see some of our forces shifting from one theater to the next. What people sometimes forget is that there is a huge demand for Air Force capabilities worldwide. And so the Air National Guard helps the Air Force fulfill some of those requirements, too. We’ve got to take a look at—as we come out of a lot of [overseas contingency operation (OCO)] funding—resorting to a time when we’re not going to have as much supplemental funding for operations worldwide.And for us to continue to be operational, we’ve got to make sure that our baseline budget, our organized training and equipment budget, is large enough written into the Air Force’s budget so that we can continue to be operational and provide the capability that the Air Force needs.
O: Can you talk a little bit, specifically, from Iraq to Afghanistan; are there a few things that jump out as distinctive differences between the two theaters?
Lt Gen WYATT: We were focused on Iraq for such a long period of time that the infrastructure that was built up as we progressed with that conflict got to the point where we had some pretty good infrastructure. We’re kind of limited in Afghanistan. Just the terrain itself poses a lot of challenges. Some of the terrain requires that you have, I think, more overflight, more oversight, from above. The mobility world is playing a huge role with airdrops, as opposed to the Iraq theater, where, yes, we flew quite a bit of supplies and people in, but once they were in-theater, they were dispersed primarily over the ground. We took a lot of the ground transportation load off of the Army forces and Marine forces in Iraq with airlift. But I think it’s even more important—with the treacherous terrain in Afghanistan—that the Air [Force] provides even more of that relief.
O: Of course, the responsibility of airlift from across the Reserve Components lies so heavily in the Reserve Components as it is.
Lt Gen WYATT: We have a lot of tactical airlift—C-130s in the Air Guard. We fly about 30 percent. We’re not as invested in the tactical airlift as, in my opinion, I think we should be. We have, as we speak, three C-5 units. One of those at Stewart [AFB, N.Y.] is getting ready to transition into C-17s.We have one Air National Guard C-17 wing at Jackson, Miss., and we have two associate wings—one in Hawaii and one in Alaska. ... We really, as we take a look at [strategic airlift], could probably do some more of that for the Air Force if they wanted to rebalance the forces in that direction.
O: Along some of the same lines: In mid-November, Gen Johns—and you may have been there as well—announced that the refueling missions weren’t going to decrease, but the funding was. Dollars for man-days were going to drop by about 20 percent. You had mentioned in the story about how you can make it through this. How are you going to make it through that?
Lt Gen WYATT: I think it’s going to require all of the MAJCOMS and the COCOMS to prioritize what it is that needs to get done. The first, I guess, visible change took place in Air Mobility Command and specifically with the Northeast Tanker Task Force— Bangor, Maine; Pease International Tradeport, N. H.; the Pittsburg unit flies some of those; [and Joint Base] McGuire-[Dix-Lakehurst,
N. Y]. ... This is really an interesting study, because it shows the value of the Air National Guard when we’re at war, and the funding is there to support it. But it also demonstrates that, as the resources get slimmer, and as we draw out of different fights across the globe, that by having a large Total Force Air National Guard Component, the Air Force can flex its muscle when it needs to, and we can contract when the resources aren’t there. The baseline Air Force man-day allocation is about 5,000 man-years that are built into the force’s baseline budget. And then you had, last year, about 11,000 more man-years that were OCO-funded, so the Air Force’s reaction to That is that the OCO-funded MPA [military personnel appropriation] days that are used to employ reservists and Guardsmen are going to be reduced.
So we’re going through that process. It will be painful, because we have been at this war for such a long time, and we have some individual Guardsmen who have been on long-term MPA day orders who have basically transitioned from being a drill-status Guardsman with a civilian job to a member of the military. But they’re not longterm Title 10 folks. They’re drill-status Guardsmen at the end of the day. So, as we draw down some of the conflicts around the world, those folks will need to be transitioned back into civilian life.
The Air Force is working with this to try to ease that landing as best they can, but we recognize, that’s what Guardsmen do. We mobilize, we step up, we volunteer when we’re asked to, and then we return to civilian life when the resources aren’t there.
O: The Air Force has basically said no more C-17s beyond its agreed upon limits, and I don’t believe its planning on upgrading any of the C-5As down the line. In the Air Force Reserve Components, C-5As are being retired or replaced with C-17s. That only leaves the remaining C-5As with a few of the Guard units. How is the Guard addressing this issue with the C-5As, when it comes to retiring or modernizing them?
Lt Gen WYATT: To say that the Air Force is not going to re-engine any of the C-5As might be a little premature. I don’t think any current plans have C-5As being re-engined, but I think the Air Force wants to take a look at the M-model modifications, which are not only engines, but avionics. Now the A [models] are getting the avionics upgrade.So I think what the Air Force will probably do is take a look at its engine modifications, and if it produces the results that they think, they’ll finish the C-5B fleet and then take a look at the C-17/C-5 mix to see what that is, see what the demands are at the time. I hold out some hope that some—not all—but some of the C-5As may be modified. But in the interim period of time, what we’re doing is taking a look at the C-17s that will be in the inventory [and] trying to convince the Air Force to maybe take a look at some of those that are in backup aircraft inventory and put those into some of the primary aircraft authorization fleet.
O: Of course, budget constraints are at the cornerstone of many of these issues. Can you give me your opinion on modifying end-strength among the Air Components to achieve some of these savings—putting more missions in the Guard and Reserve? Is this a viable approach, and how much savings do you think that could achieve?
Lt Gen WYATT: You know, there are a lot of different shaping functions or shaping options or alternatives that the Air Force is looking at as we try to meet budgets. Right now, none of the components are looking at changing the end-strength. The Air Force came down significantly four or five years ago and determined that it brought its end-strength down too far, and so they kind of increased back up from, I think, the low of 316,000 up to 331,000. Air Force Reserve Command did the same thing. It was at 76,000, went down below 70,000, and is now creeping back up to 72,000. The Air Guard has been pretty consistent at 106,700 authorized end-strength, and we are at 100 percent—a little over that right now—just about where we want to be.
O: Once again, talking about more equipment: The next opportunity for the Air Guard to get allocated any F-35s is years away. Can you talk about where that program is now and what the outlook is in the face of these declining dollars?
Lt Gen WYATT: A couple of points: One is, we expect Mr. [Ashton B.] Carter [Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics] to probably, after the first of , indicate his belief on where the F-35 is going. We anticipate that there will be a slip to the right. It causes the Air National Guard some concern because we’re flying the oldest fighters. And the question is, how do we make those old fighters last long enough to even be considered for a future bed down? July the 29th, the Air Force announced the bed down locations for a substantial number of training aircraft and operational aircraft, and the Air Guard was fortunate to get one base—Burlington [Vt.]— an 18 PAA [primary assigned aircraft]. But if you look at the total Number of airplanes that were addressed, it’s in the neighborhood of 200. It was going to be 273, and I think because of the reductions in the acquisition [and] the ramp-up slow to move to the right, we’re only talking about 230/240 airplanes, but only 18 of those are going to the Air National Guard. And while I’m pleased to see that we’re being fielded the aircraft concurrently with the United States Air Force, I’m concerned that the numbers that are coming to the Air National Guard aren’t sufficient to allow us to remain the operational force that we need to be so that we can spell the operations tempo of the Active Component and be the Total Force partner.
O: You touched on associate units a bit.Can you talk about the associate unit concept, and how it’s progressing and where we might see additional units? Is that something that’s in the cards for the future?
Lt Gen WYATT: Associate units at first came out of primarily as a result of BRAC [Base Realignment and Closure Commission] and directly put together some classic associations where the iron is owned by the Active Component, and the Guard provides some of the man firepower. The Active associate… is just the opposite, where the Guard owns the iron, and then we have some Reserve associates where we have two Reserve units put together. I’m very familiar with one of those [at] Tinker Air Force Base, [Okla.,] we have an Air Force Reserve Command KC-135 unit and my old—I was the adjutant general of Oklahoma; had an eight PAA C-130 wing—Air National Guard wing in Oklahoma City that was “BRACked” out of C-130s and into KC-135s and associated with the Reserve Component. Some of those are working pretty well; some of them aren’t working so well because they were put together without a lot of thought on what it was that we wanted to obtain with these associations.Was it efficiency? Was it maximizing combat capability? And I think there’s a way to do both, and I think it’s through associations.And what Gen Schwartz has stressed the last year is that we go back and take a look at those existing associations to see if they’re performing the way that we anticipated. If so, leave them alone and let them keep going. But if they’re not, what can be done to Re-shape those? In addition to that, we have a list of over 100 Total Force initiatives that have to do with associations that Gen Mosely, when he was the chief of staff of the Air Force, had approved that we’ve been unable to implement because of manpower shortages or resourcing shortages.
The interesting thing, as we take a look at associations, is the concern that Secretary [of Defense Robert] Gates has with all of the consolidations that BRAC drove and with the impending possibility of consolidating even more, due to budget pressures.His concern [was] that the military was becoming isolated from the civilian populous—from the taxpayers—and I share that concern. The Army has basically moved to the Southern tier and consolidated on about five mega bases across the country. And the Air Force has looked at [that], too.
If the secretary is concerned about the American public losing contact with the military, again, I have an answer, and that is: Invest in community basing in the Air National Guard, because for very little money you can operate an Air National Guard base.We have 88 wings in those 54 jurisdictions I’m talking about. Of those 88 wings, 66 of those—or 75 percent of our Air National Guard wings—operate out of civilian airfields. We don’t pay to lay the concrete; we don’t pay to build a fence around it; we don’t pay to do the tower. We pay a little bit to use it, but we operate those 66 air bases at a cost of about $4 million. We have access to $12 billion worth of infrastructure that only costs the Air National Guard and the Air Force $4 million a year. Plus, you have this strategic dispersal of assets that works to your favor in certain circumstances. And because we have the need in the northeast tanker task force, we have the need for homeland security, homeland defense airlift all across the country. We have the need for 16 air sovereignty alert sites dispersed across the country. It makes good economic sense; it makes good strategic and military sense to disperse at least some of your forces.
O: Can you talk about BRAC in 2011?
Lt Gen WYATT: We’re just about finishing up with BRAC. We’re on schedule, we’re on target. We will accomplish all of the directions that BRAC has directed us.The thing to take out of all of that is that there’s been a huge amount of change since 2005—wholesale changes – one unit out of a mission into another mission. When you take a look at the volume of change that was demanded by BRAC and the relatively short period of time—you say six years, from ’05 to ’11 is really a long period of time, but not when you’re talking about changing as much as the Air National Guard changed. A lot of turmoil, but we’re making our way through that. When you have a lot of change, you have a lot of need for additional training, and we’re competing with the other two components for training seats at a time when they drew down their forces And now they’re pumping their end-strength back up. So a huge demand on training seats, that is a challenge.
[We’re also] getting out of a lot of platform-based missions into capability-based [missions, and] moving out of the traditional manned aircraft into unmanned and into nonflying missions, like cyber. It’s hard for old guys like me who grew up in the plat form based service to think about transitioning, but talk to our young people and they get as excited over cyberattack and chess matches over the cyber as we do in air-to-air dog fighting. It’s the same type of competitive patriotic service. It’s just a different way of doing it. ... If you look at the transitions that have been made, either as a result of BRAC or conscious decisions to move out of one platform into another unmanned or another capability, you see a lot of success stories out there.
O: While we’re engaged heavily in Iraq and Afghanistan, what kind of impact does the situation now—as we’re looking into the future, talking about the Pacific— do to your future planning, with muscle flexing by China and North Korea?
Lt Gen WYATT: We have been engaged the last 20 years with kind of a war fighting scenario where we— except for maybe the first few days of Desert Storm 1 and Desert Storm 2—really haven’t needed the anti-access capability that exists in the U.S. Air Force. We kind of shifted our focus from that future war fight, if you will, to winning today’s fight. For the Air Force, we can do with unmanned Predators, we can do with Reapers [and other similar] capability[ies].
My concern is that we’re—especially in the Pacific—facing more and more challenges from the type of near-peer threat.China’s coming up. We know what Iran and Korea are talking about doing. India is getting much better and [is] already very capable. Russia is making a comeback, too, so I think we, and I think Gen Schwartz has indicated his concern, that we need to start looking at a long-range strike platform. But it will be a family of systems, and so we’re looking at the same thing. We have relationships with PACAF [Pacific Air Forces] and PACOM [Pacific Command]. We have in the National Guard, what we call State Partnership Programs; state Guards are partnered with other countries, and we have a significant presence in PACOM and PACAF. USAFE [U.S. Air Force Europe] has been extremely good to work with in State Partnership Programs.They recognized the value of those early on, and we have some very good state partnerships, some mature state partnerships.
O: During the election a couple of months ago, there was not only a big change in the House of Representatives, there was a big change at the state level. About 12 governorships switched from Democrat to Republican. Can you talk a little bit about different approaches you might have in looking into the future and working with the governors?
Lt Gen WYATT: We know, for example, that all states vary a little bit. Each state has an adjutant general who can be either Army or Air who commands the Army National Guard and Air National Guard in that particular state or territory or the District of Columbia. And we know that, through the normal course of retirements and [new administrations], we’re going to lose 10 to 12 adjutants general, and maybe as many as 17 or 19, depending upon the politics, the change of the state house, the governors. So, we try to identify those as best we can. When the new governors come on, if they happen to bring a new adjutant general with them, we have some orientation course with our adjutants general that we bring them in and explain how things work here and offer the help that we can.
One of the things that happened as a result of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010 was the establishment of the Council of Governors, that is, along with Gen McKinley becoming a four-star, probably the two things that have, I think, helped the Guard link better with the DoD [Department of Defense] and with the secretary [of defense], especially because the Council of Governors now meets quarterly with the secretary of defense: 10 governors appointed by the president, and it’s pretty bipartisan. And they meet and they bring their adjutants general to the meetings, too, and they talk about those things that are important to them as the commanders in chief of their Guard, their domestic responsibilities, homeland security, homeland defense, and what they need from the military to be able to protect the citizens in their respective states. I don’t think we really get that concerned about Republican/Democrat switches, but we do take a look at the strengths that the governors bring with their concern over what they have to do within their sovereign jurisdiction of those states and how they can link up with the secretary of defense. We say in the DoD that homeland security and homeland defense is mission No. 1, but we don’t resource it that way. We put most of our money into the overseas war fight, which is a way of securing the homeland. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that.
But I think some of the concerns the governors have is that in doing that, sometimes we don’t pay close enough attention to what they need from the military in their particular states to react to the floods and the fires and the hurricanes and the ice storms and … terrorist attacks. I’m from Oklahoma. The terrorist attack on the Murrah building April 19, 1995: I never will forget that.The military was on the scene at a moment’s notice.
I think it’s a combination of “yes, there is a lot of change” but the change we focus on is the added access that Gen McKinley now has to some four-star-level meetings, which help us inside the [Pentagon], but also the change of the Council of Governors.It puts some of our civilian leaders in a closer contact with the secretary of defense so that the exchange of ideas will help. And then you have this dynamic called the Department of Homeland Security that kind of gets—well, does get—into that homeland security/homeland defense scenario. And so the Guard kind of operates there in DoD with mission No. 1, but it also does a lot of FEMA-type work, Department of Homeland security-type work. I think there are some opportunities with the Council of Governors and with Gen McKinley’s established position now to better answer the country’s needs.
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