What you need to know about your Air Guard

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Rick Moisio
  • Commander, 162nd Fighter Wing
Are you aware of what a remarkable organization your Air National Guard is? Bet not. 

Did you know that the ANG flies approximately 45 percent of all theatre airlift aircraft, primarily the C-130? 40 percent of the Air Force's aerial refueling tankers are in Guard units including the 161st ARW, our sister unit in Phoenix. ANG members  fly 30 percent of the fighters, 20 percent of the rescue assets, and 10 percent of global airlift. We do smaller percentages of nearly every other Air Force mission. 

As the Guard moves into new missions, these numbers will change. Predator units are fast becoming operational across the Guard, such as Arizona's own 214th Reconnaissance Group at Davis-Monthan, and Guardsmen will soon represent a very significant portion of the UAV flying force. Guard units have moved into every area of non flying missions; space (111th Space Ops Flight, AZANG), command and control, intelligence, and information operations to name a few. 

Did you know that the ANG does all this using only 7 percent of the Air Force budget? And what about manpower? The active force has drawn down to approximately 320,000 members. There are around 75,000 Air Force Reservists, 20,000 of them full time. The Air Guard is 106,000 strong, of which only about 35,000 are full time. Though the cost of a full-time member of the Guard or Reserve is comparable to that of an active duty Airman, the Air Force gets four fully trained, combat ready traditional Guardsmen for the cost of one active duty Airman! 

What about facilities and airfields? Guard efficiencies are obvious when you compare our 92 acres to the size of an Air Force base. Additionally, it is estimated to cost in the neighborhood of $15 million to operate and maintain an Air Force airfield (not the base, just the airfield). But some 60 Guard flying units operate at municipal airports all over the country and pay a grand total of just under $5 million in joint use agreements. 

Beginning in 2010, the Air Guard will take a significant cut in our budget. In future articles I'll discuss in more depth what every unit must do to help the Guard survive. For now, the 162nd is in the planning stages of gaining as much savings as we can from utilities and fuels. The sooner we start cost saving efforts, the better off we'll be because we will have taken a big bite out of the looming budget cut. Of the Guard's approximately $8 billion annual budget, we will be losing more than $600 million per year. Why? 

The Air Force effort to recapitalize the aircraft fleet is expensive but necessary, given that the average age of the fleet is higher than ever before at approximately 24 years. The tankers that the 161st flies in Phoenix are 50 years old! And our unit just modernized from F-16As to 25 year old Block 25 C models. We won't know for many years if the current Air Force plan for modernization materializes, but no matter which way things work out, a lot of money must be spent to buy new aircraft. 

Reread the first few paragraphs. Brag about your Air National Guard, our incomparable efficiencies, and what we bring to the fight!