News: Air National Guard leaders discuss future
Story by Master Sgt. Jerry Bynum
LEESBURG, Va. – The future of the Air National Guard and how it can best align itself with the president’s new strategic guidance were the main topics discussed at the two-day Air National Guard 2012 Senior Leadership Conference that began here Wednesday.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, the director of the ANG, hosted the event that allowed senior leaders from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia to exchange ideas and provide input from the field on critical issues affecting the ANG’s future role.
“The Senior Leadership Conference brings together officer and senior enlisted leadership from across the 54 states, territories and the District of Columbia,” said Wyatt. “It is an opportunity to share information, but this comes at an especially critical time now because we are facing some severe financial constraints on the [Department of Defense] budget.”
The theme for this year’s annual meeting was “ANG 2025 - Leading Tomorrow’s Total Force.” A variety of key issues were addressed including the likely future demands for ANG capabilities, alternative business models for an operational reserve, and preparing airmen, families and employers to be able to adapt to future changes.
“The most important message is our people are the real strength of the Air National Guard,” said Wyatt. “If we take care of our people, if we train them properly, if we give them relevant missions into the future ... we’ll be just fine as an Air National Guard.”
The primary speakers during the event, Army Gen. Frank J. Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau and a member of the Joint Chiefs, Wyatt, and Air Force Brig. Gen. James C. Witham, the ANG’s deputy director, addressed Adjutants General, unit commanders and other key ANG leaders.
Grass said the National Guard is entering a time of strategic transition. He noted that the DoD is shaping the force for the future in a fiscally-constrained environment; and the president and secretary of defense have issued new strategic guidance for the direction of the military.
“We may need to combine programs and gain efficiencies,” said Grass. “As we move forward with implementation of the new DoD strategic guidance, we must embrace new sunrise mission opportunities as they become available. We must ensure our forces are ready and relevant for the challenges that face our nation today, and into the future.”
Grass continued by saying that given our nation’s fiscal constraints, there must be a proper balance between the active and the reserve components.
“One of the main topics we’ve discussed here is the future of the Air National Guard,” said Grass. “We want to focus on the future to maintain readiness and determine the most effective structure both for the homeland as well as the total Air Force.”
The ANG SLC attendees also discussed recruiting and retention, future demands of domestic operations, diversity, total force integration, recapitalization and enlisted issues from resiliency to professional military education.
“As we plot the way ahead for the Air National Guard, we have to shift our strategy,” Wyatt said. “We must recapitalize our resources and do what’s right for our people, for the taxpayers and the total Air Force.”