AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar— U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice, Air National Guard director, visited service members and spoke with senior leaders throughout U.S. Air Forces Central Command posts, along with Chief Master Sgt. Ron Anderson, ANG command chief and Chief MSgt. Lorene Kitzmiller, ANG first sergeant functional, April 2019, in efforts to gauge how ANG priorities are manifesting at the tactical edge.
The ANG leadership triad visited ANG Airmen and joint service members at bases in Southwest Asia, Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kandahar Airfield, Bagram Air Base and Al Udeid Air Base, across AFCENT.
“It is so important, now more than ever, that we [senior leaders] ensure the priorities we are working to establish are having the impact we want them to, where we need them to,” said Rice to service members at Bagram Air Base. “We still have work to do, but to come here and see ANG Airmen totally and seamlessly integrated into the fight assures me that we are making strides in the right direction.”
Rice, Anderson and Kitzmiller met with the full spectrum of leadership and service members throughout the tour, from the base commanders to ANG group commanders and chiefs, to active duty Air Force, Army and Army National Guard members.
“The ANG is integral to our operations here,” said the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander, Southwest Asia. “They are fully integrated with our total force components and our wing is so much stronger due to having Guard and Reserve members operating alongside us.”
Focus on the National Guard’s engagement in the wartime mission has increased in recent months, with leaders across the Department of Defense speaking to the state of readiness of dual-status service members. U.S. Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau recently testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, where he stated that the National Guard is at its highest state of readiness ever.
“Readiness is as much about making sure processes work properly as it is about training,” Anderson stated during a lunch meeting with leaders and ANG Airmen from across Kandahar. “I look to the feedback I receive from Airmen to let me know that the efforts we are exerting domestically are setting them up for success down range.”
Anderson and Kitzmiller met with guard and active command chiefs and first sergeants across AFCENT to receive updates on how prepared ANG leaders are to manage service members in a joint environment.
“As the OPTEMPO continues to increase across guard units, our ability to maintain interoperability with our active components is what is going to ensure our success at the tactical edge,” said Anderson.
The decision to include a focus on first sergeants in particular was strategic. Kitzmiller brought a specific and intentional element to the discussion of readiness in the warfight.
“Assessing first sergeant total force integration downrange is essential to ensuring our interoperability with the active and joint force,” stated Kitzmiller. “My breakout time with command leadership teams and deployed ANG first sergeants provided the dual perspective I need to help ANG diamonds maintain sustainability in a joint warfighting environment.”
The tour across AFCENT not only provided ANG senior leadership with feedback to take back to the nation’s capital, but served as a great morale booster for service members across all components who are operating down range.
Senior Airman Jeremy Davis, an aircraft hydraulics journeyman with the 386th Air Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, Ali Al Salem, is an active-duty Airmen who was promoted by Rice and Anderson, among his comrades and leaders, during the ANG senior leader’s tour of the 386th EAMXS.
“I’m an active duty Airman and was tasked with a two week notice to be here due to a shortfall, so it’s especially cool being promoted by the director of the Air National Guard” said Davis. “It’s my first deployment and I am doing a lot and learning a lot. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.”
The ANG senior leadership triad gleaned service members for feedback, but also provided feedback, updating them on process statuses and offering words of reinforcement, encouragement and appreciation.
“When you think about how we live and breathe with hope and aspirations and the ability to impact that for a better future for ourselves, our families and others, I hope you feel a great sense pride and accomplishment in your role in that,” Rice told service members at Bagram.
The leadership triad recognized exceptional performers throughout the tour and engaged with Guard members from several states across the country, including Michigan, New York, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Nebraska, Iowa, California, Maryland, Louisiana, Indiana, Vermont Arizona, Montana, Ohio and Massachusetts.