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Breaking Barriers Across the Total Force

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Enjoli Saunders
  • National Guard Bureau

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. -- U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. April D. Vogel made history as the first female two-star general in the Maryland Air National Guard when she was promoted in April 2022. Her career has been a model of the successful synthesis of the National Guard capabilities with those of the active duty armed forces.

Currently serving as the director of the Office of Legislative Liaison at the National Guard Bureau at the Pentagon, Vogel’s role includes advising the Chief of NGB and other senior leaders on congressional activities that may impact National Guard interests as well as informing and educating Congress on National Guard plans, programs, budget, policies, activities, and issues. She is essentially the conduit of communication between Congress, its agencies, and the National Guard.

Vogel’s appointment is a high-profile example of what the military calls "total force" integration: the merging of active-duty and reserve operations to leverage their assets in an era of limited resources and a changing military landscape.

"I never set out to break barriers, but I have been afforded the opportunity to be a part of some really impactful missions," said Maj. Gen. Vogel. "We want to make sure the priorities of the National Guard are being heard by our nation’s leaders. Our Guard members are doing amazing work to support their state and nation, so we work hard to make sure they can keep doing that."

Total force integration is nothing new to Vogel. She previously served as commander of the Air Force’s 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. When selected to command the wing, Vogel became the first Air National Guard officer to command an active duty flying wing. While serving in this position, she oversaw operations with mission partners to include the U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, and the 927th Air Refueling Wing, to name a few.

After her tour of duty commanding active-duty Airmen, Vogel returned to her home in the National Guard by serving as the Maryland’s assistant adjutant general for air. In 2018, Maryland made headlines when its National Guard became the first in the nation to be led by an all-female command team. Even though she was uncomfortable with the attention, the symbolic importance for the generations coming after her was important.

“Maj. Gen. Vogel has been a great inspiration to many Airmen she supported throughout her distinguished career,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Jori Robinson, commander of the 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard. “I have had the opportunity to work with her many times and I know she cares deeply for all the Airmen around her.”

In her role, she commanded the Maryland Air National Guard and advised the Governor on matters pertaining to the Airmen of the 175th Wing at Warfield Air National Guard Base in Middle River, Maryland.

But even in this ostensibly state position, Vogel found herself tapped for important roles within the larger Air Force. Soon after being appointed assistant adjutant general, Vogel was dual-hatted as the ANG advisor to the secretary of the Air Force for international affairs, where she was charged with building, sustaining, and expanding theater security cooperation and international relationships. She later went on to serve as the director of manpower, personnel, recruiting and services at the National Guard Bureau.

Vogel was commissioned in 1995 and completed pilot training in 2004. She deployed in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. She has more than 1,600 flight hours on various airlift aircraft, supported missions all over the world, and led thousands of Airmen throughout her career. Still, she knows she did not accomplish it all by herself.

"I feel blessed that there have been mentors who have guided me and leaders who have helped me make it here," said Vogel. "I actively try to do the same for the Airmen in my sphere of influence. I've seen the skill, determination, and passion of the next generation and I look forward to seeing how they are going to improve the best Air Force in the world while making life better for their fellow service members and their families."