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Commander's Comments: Four Pillars of Total Force

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Tracy Troxel
  • Command Chief
I recently attended a briefing given by the Air National Guard Command Chief Master Sgt., James Hotaling. The briefing was held to discuss the vision for the ANG laid out by Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke, the director of the ANG, because of the challenging fiscal times that lie ahead. I wanted to share this information with you, as each of us will play a critical role in helping to shape this vision.

The DANG's vision simply stated is: to be proactive in providing combat ready and adaptable Airmen to meet the mission when called. Along with this vision, he has established enduring priorities that are a focus of the ANG: develop adaptable Airmen, secure the home front while defending the nation, renew our commitment to the profession of arms, and modernize.

To meet this vision, Lt. Gen. Clarke has established what he called the Four Pillars of the Total Force - things the ANG will focus on to ensure we continue to stay at the same level of readiness as the Active Duty, but to also ensure we are a viable force in the future.

Pillar 1: Same standards, but the documentation style can be different.
The ANG, like the AF Reserve, is part of the larger Air Force; we are different in many ways but we still must meet and exceed the same standards across the total force. In reality, we already do this in regards to many things such as dress and appearance, customs and courtesies, the little brown book, etc. Those standards are absolutes and regardless of component we all meet the same standard. However, there are issues coming soon that the ANG will be the same in function but different in form than the AD.

Enlisted Performance Reports are a great example of this and now that we have an evaluation of our performance, how this is documented will be different than the AD. Professional Military Education is another example; the AD is beginning to use a model of Professional Military Education that is like the ANGs. They are going to distance learning more and less school house instruction. The standards are the same, but how we document them will be different.

Pillar 2: Same inspections, but the frequency can be different.
Currently, we tend to operate on the same inspection cycle that the AD does, regardless of type. While this might make sense from a 40,000 foot view, when you get down lower you see the impact that the preparation time does to a guard unit when we have limited time to do all the things we need to do. Moving forward, the focus will be on combining inspections and finding the right frequency that makes sense for the ANG. How many of you have ever wondered, why aren't we getting credit for a Phase One mobility exercise as we are packing up all our equipment for an Aerospace Expeditionary Force deployment? Soon, we will see this type of thing happening.

Pillar 3: Operational engagement, avoid being only a strategic reserve.
Part of the ANG mission is to be a strategic reserve in times of national emergency. This is the soul of the Minuteman, but over the past 25 years the ANG has been a critical component of the operational force in support of national defense.

With the budgetary constraints our country is in, there will be a lot of pressure put on the ANG to go back to being that strategic reserve, but we have demonstrated, time and time again, that we can do the mission just as well if not better, at a fraction of the cost. Many of our elected representatives know this and you can help make sure they continue to support the ANG by joining and supporting professional organizations to make sure our story gets told. Also, we must continue to maintain our readiness at the highest level possible to make sure we stay operational.

Pillar 4: Resourcing.
I have stated above that we do things at a fraction of the cost of the AD, but it is still an expensive proposition to operate the 180th FW. The ANG is, on whole, a more experienced and higher educated force and everyone does an outstanding job of taking care of our jets, facilities and equipment, but eventually things wear out and need replacing. The fight to make sure the ANG has what it needs to be that operational force in the future is on in Washington and making your voice heard is important here as well. There are only so many dollars to go around and by the 180th FW maintaining our equipment like we do, and keeping our readiness up, shows the folks that make the decisions where to send resources, that we are a priority and good stewards for
the taxpayer.

So you might be asking, how do I fit into all of this? Simple, continue doing the great and
important things you do each and every time you put on the uniform. Be proud of your service, maintain high standards and expect the same of others, keep your readiness (fitness, medical, technical, etc.) at the highest possible state, tell your story in your community and to your elected representatives. These are all things that will ensure we continue to be the strongest pillar in the total force and the Best Fighter Wing in the World.