Airmen of the Air National Guard--twice the citizens!
Thank you Danny (Lt Gen Daniel James, Director, Air National Guard) for your generous introduction.
Good morning and welcome. It is my great privilege to be here today with the dedicated professionals of America's militia and so many of the frontline Air Guard leaders from around the nation. From the Minutemen of our nation's first war to the thousands of citizen warriors serving today in the global war on terrorism, we are truly blessed to have our more than 110,000 officer, enlisted and civilian air guardsmen. You serve a dual role as defenders of our great democracy, supporting our national military objects, and as responsible citizens in the towns and cities across the land, supporting their state governors' mission to preserve peace, order and public safety.
The simple but thoughtful words of one of the great leaders of the 20th century, Winston Churchill, capture best my sentiments about our Total Force. With his familiar ease, but depth of wisdom, he communicated the incalculable worth of our total force. He said: "The Reservist is twice the citizen."
While I use the word "reservist" with some trepidation in the presence of a thousand guardsmen, I think you understand the point. I just can't say it any better than he did. The continued faithful service of our air reserve component--despite the high costs associated with extended mobilization and long deployments--is critical to our success in this new era of new threats. And your leadership of these dedicated citizens is absolutely vital in delivering capability to our Air Force, and security to our nation.
My partner, General John Jumper, and I firmly believe that one of the great advantages we bring to the joint team stems from the flexibility of our force. The synergy of our fully integrated active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve team provides warfighters with capabilities that would be difficult to impossible for these components to provide alone.
From the first Gulf War to the Global War on Terror, we've demonstrated this over and over. Our air reserve component accounts for more than 65 percent of our tactical airlift, 35 percent of our strategic airlift capability, 60 percent of our air refueling, and possesses over a third of our strike fighters. The air reserve component also makes significant contributions to our rescue and support missions, and has an increasing presence in space, intelligence and information operations.
From where I sit and view the playing field, the air reserve component is on the first string, and for decades to come will remain critical to achieving the full potential of American air and space power. There is no doubt that our Air Force would be infinitely less capable if we were to qualitatively reduce what you bring to the fight.
You can be very proud of what we've achieved over the past two plus years. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, the first military units to respond to the attacks were air defense aircraft from the North Dakota and Massachusetts Air National Guard, providing defensive combat air patrols over Washington and New York. Later that day, the entire nation was covered with a blanket of protection, much of it delivered by guard units. Millions of Americans across the country, although shaken, found the sound of your jets over their homes reassuring.
In Afghanistan and Iraq, our armed forces performed magnificently. Thirty days after the President announced we would be commencing military operations in Afghanistan, coalition and Northern Alliance troops entered Kabul. And just 21 days after commencing hostilities in Iraq, we had effectively broken coherent resistance in Baghdad and collapsed the regime's control. In doing so, we replaced a despotic government and, while we face a challenging insurgency, we can take heart that we liberated 25 million Iraqis and shut down a regime dedicated to threatening the interests of the U.S. and our allies. The capture of Saddam Hussein on Saturday is the realization of one of our principal objectives in Operation Iraqi Freedom. This is an important strategic step, and as the President said is "crucial to the rise of a free Iraq."
On that September morning two years ago, we asked you--and guardsmen all over the country--to "push it up." I stand before you today to thank you and congratulate you for making it happen. I salute your great airmen for all they do, and I offer my sincere appreciation for your leadership in keeping them ready and motivated. Well done.
The world is a decidedly different place today than the one we knew in the previous century. It is a vitally important time in our history as we work to solve the challenges posed by global terrorism and other threats to our nation. Today, I'd like to share with you my perspective on this new environment, offer some thoughts on how we need to adapt our force, and leave you with a few ideas to think about as we prepare for the challenges that lie ahead.
We have new challenges today--challenges that were intensified, but not created, by the events of 9/11. Today, our adversaries' goals include creating terror by striking America and our interests at home and abroad. And they have demonstrated an ability to attack with minimal resources relative to the devastation they can cause.
We are now engaged in a global war with an elusive and resilient enemy who does not employ traditional means of warfare. These new realities underscore the absolute necessity to adapt our force. As airmen, I ask you to treat "transformation" as a mindset rather than a process. It is a state of mind that is willing to explore adaptations of existing and new systems, doctrines, and organizations--one that will allow us to be truly relevant in the era in which we find ourselves.
In this new era, we need leaders with vision to guide us through the changing environment. Our objective in this journey is to transform our Air Force into a 21st century total force team, capable of bringing the deterrent and compelling effects of air and space power to bear against asymmetric and traditional threats.
In the Air Guard, Danny James is making this happen. When he took the helm 18 months ago, we saluted his preparedness for the position. And was he ever prepared. I know he'll share his vision for the Air National Guard with you his week. Let me just say this about the direction he is leading you--he is 100 percent on target! The Air National Guard must remain ready, reliable and relevant--be ready to go when the balloon goes up, be reliable when its members get there, and bring relevant capabilities that produce the warfighting effects our joint forces need to succeed in combat. And whether that mission is defending the skies over North America, or engaging the enemy in Southwest or Central Asia, our Total Force must be in lock step while preserving the unique culture of the 54 units that comprise our Air Guard team.
The active force and the guard must continue to fly in formation. Maybe not wingtip to wingtip, but in a combat spread, taking advantage of our complementary views of the battlespace and providing the mutual support that is absolutely critical to warfighting.
Major General Dave Poythress, our TAG from Georgia, understands this well. He knew that the Georgia Guard and the airmen of Robins--active and guard--could make our vision of a blended unit a reality and that they would do it with class. The 116th team at Robins took on something entirely new--a new way of organizing, training and operating. But in doing so, they blazed a trail for others to follow. While there are several organizational issues upon which we continue to improve, I think you'll agree with me that he's succeeded in delivering on his promise--just ask the commanders in Iraq. I recently had the opportunity to visit the 116th at AI Udeid AB during my visit to the AOR. It is a fantastic system with a crew representing both the active force as well as the guard. And as is the case everywhere I go, I couldn't tell the active from the guard. We gain operational capability with the expertise and technical ability our guardsmen bring to the active force. We want the Guard to be on our most advanced systems, not our older systems. You have the talent we need and we shouldn't be giving hand-me-down systems to the guard.
I find it interesting that one of the lessons identified from this effort to blend a guard B-1 unit with an active JSTARS unit was that there was "no expertise" on the staff and no staff agency familiar with blending. But that's the point--of course there was "no expertise" on the staff familiar with blending, because we had never done it before. And I don't want experts on the staff to try figure it out and tell you what to do. I want your ideas and innovations.
Ladies and gentlemen, there is no rulebook or checklist for dealing with the challenges that we face today. We need leaders who are willing to get their hands dirty, who will work problems, remain flexible and reach innovative solutions. I ask you to consider the following recent challenges:
* We established 36 expeditionary bases around the globe to fight battles in the war on terrorism, stretching our resources and capability.
* We used people and hardware from eight AEFs at the height of Operation Iraqi Freedom, forcing us to completely restructure our deployable force into two temporary AEFs before we can return to our "normal" rotations.
* We have activated thousands of airmen from the guard and reserves for extended periods of time; and 20 percent of our AEF packages are composed of citizen airmen.
* As of today, we have more than 26,000 airmen deployed--4,400 of them are Air Guard. And, members of the Guard or Reserve are supporting most of the Operation Noble Eagle missions.
We have stressed dozens of career fields, particularly those associated with Force Protection, ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), and the buildup and sustainment of expeditionary operations. Our analysis shows that we need to shift about 15,000 airmen to new career fields to meet the demands of this new "steady state."
Also, we've been forced to take the previously unheard of step of hiring Army Guardsman to help us perform the security mission at our CONUS Air Force bases--and even in England, where Guardsmen from Minnesota are working today at Lakenheath and Mildenhall. And they relieved the Puerto Rico Guard who were there before them.
These are just a few of the reasons why we are adapting and why we are looking for new ways to solve organizational and human resources challenges. With these realities, and with the Secretary of Defense's force rebalancing initiative in the works, it is only smart that we look at a range of Future Total Force initiatives that make sense.
The reasons for integration are compelling. Integrating allows us to relieve some of the stress on the active duty force. For example, the Air Force Reserve provides over 600 instructor pilots at all undergraduate pilot training bases, allowing more active duty pilots to remain in operational cockpits.
We gain operational capability with the expertise and technical ability guardsmen bring to the active force. And this is a key point: The Offutt Future Total Force initiative is a great example. There, 80 personnel of the Nebraska Guard joined with the 55th Wing to provide aircrew instructors as well as augmentation in the Operations Support function. This total force team is working well and is being expanded to provide even more support in the future.
We also can improve the operation of an entire fleet of aircraft with the implementation of an integrated unit. In the B-1 initiative, we consolidated the B-1 bomber force from five locations to two, and applied the savings we realized to B-1 maintenance and modifications.
I'm very pleased to report that the payoff has been tremendous. By retiring 32 aircraft, we project we'll save over $1.3 billion dollars. And, in the first 12 months following the consolidation, we have achieved the best annual mission capable rates in the history of the aircraft, and the cannibalization rate improved by 40 percent.
The consolidation gives us a fleet that is fully funded and combat-capable for the next 20 to 30 years. The 116th's involvement in OIF was highly successful as well, with an initial deployment of over 730 personnel. This is exactly the kind of innovation--the kind of transformation--we need to properly adjust to this new era.
An equally remarkable Future Total Force (FTF) initiative is under development in Nevada. We are standing up a fully integrated Predator unit at Nellis AFB--but one that is the first of its kind--with all three components reporting to one commander, and administrative control residing with the respective components. Even more remarkable, for the first time in 140 years, the militia of one state--California--will be crossing a state line to support the militia of another state--Nevada--as well as the federal force at Nellis. This peacetime merger of the three components to support an active installation is without precedent. And they will be operating in combat from Nellis. As soon as Predators are launched at Tallil Air Base, Iraq, they're controlled from Nellis. Here's a chance to use reach-back; reach-back to our Guard and Reserve units, combined with active force to be able to tap the best talent and be able to operate in combat.
We expect this program will be the crown jewel for tomorrow's Air Force, integrating the Active, Guard, and Reserve together, where it makes sense to do so. Not only will this organization involve all three components, each of them made a variety of concessions to make this a reality. General Monroe and General Gibson in California gave up 50 positions and transferred them to Nevada Guard, and General Vanderhoof convinced his governor that it was in the best interest of the Nation to allow California Guardsmen to serve in Nevada. The Reserves will be providing manpower to the operation also--12 positions to be specific, and the Guard Bureau has agreed to provide 20 officer positions to the unit. If you consider the average annual cost factor for an officer is $119,000 dollars each and $68,000 dollars for an enlisted member, the contribution of more than 55 people to the active force's Predator mission has created significant cost avoidance. Plus, we begin the process of chipping away at the rebalancing problem we need to solve in the Air Force.
Danny, thank you for your diligence, for recognizing the need to make this happen, and for the bureau's assistance in converting part-time positions to full time positions. Your leadership and vision, as well as that of General Ron Bath and General Steve Wood, have been a driving force behind the success of this endeavor; thank you. I especially want to congratulate the California and Nevada guard leadership. This was a courageous move, and one that I hope will be the first of many similar cross-boarder efforts over the years.
As we expand the capabilities of these guardsmen working in the UAV and RPA mission area, this move has wartime and peacetime implications. In the future, the Predator mission has the potential to support law enforcement during major crises, rescue and recovery efforts, fire fighting, and a variety of other missions the states need done. It also allows me to tell my favorite joke. Now, when an airman tells his or her spouse that he or she is deploying to combat, it will be to Las Vegas!
Ladies and gentlemen, these leaders understood the dilemmas facing the Air Force in our Predator mission and had something they could offer--their skilled and motivated people. In doing so, they applied the most fundamental test of loyalty that one can employ: before we are active duty, guardsmen, reservists, or any other supposed sub-category of our Air Force, we are Americans. And in getting this done, this mindset made all the difference. You did what was best for the United States of America. This breakthrough showed bureaucratic guts. Ultimately, we enhanced our ability to win our nation's wars.
Today's Future Total Force team--with 20 blended or associate units planned or in use--is performing wonderfully. Over time, we need to consider the myriad of opportunities to make other bold moves to integrate our guard, reserve and active forces, to create efficiencies, expand mission flexibility, and to prepare for the future. Let me share with you a few examples of areas potentially ripe for adaptation:
There are 19 air reserve component units in 17 states that are located within about 50 miles of an active base. These should be considered for potential Future Total Force initiatives.
In the Air Force today, there are 10 locations--either bases or local airports--where a guard and reserve unit is co-located on the same airfield. At two of those locations, we are operating the same weapons system. Surely there could be some benefit to exploring FTF options for these locations.
There are also 18 locations across the country where reserve component aircraft are bedded down on active bases, but in these cases the active and reserve forces are flying different aircraft. While these cases pose tougher challenges for FTF adaptation, our experience at Robins--and soon in Nevada when Combat Comm troops are retrained to operate the Predator mission--shows that it is doable.
Finally, we should all recognize that there are 7 ARC units that are located on active bases, and all of them are flying the same aircraft as the active duty units at those locations. I encourage the units and the TAGs to begin examining opportunities to integrate various Air Force units where it is clear that such integration will produce measurable benefits, savings and efficiencies.
When we apply the FTF approach, we deliver more seamless integration of our people and systems. We deliver efficiencies previously thought unattainable. We leverage the individual strengths of the active and guard by combining operations into new organizational structures. We add a stable, semi-permanent workforce to our rotating active force. And we deliver more interactive and flexible career patterns for our active and guard leaders.
These are challenging times. They demand innovation, action, and in many instances, courage, to overcome them. Future Total Force concepts, which include blending, but retain individual unit identities, esprit, and culture are the key to keeping our Air Force the most awesome fighting force on the planet.
I have often said that the airmen who have sworn to fight and win America's wars are not defined by the patch on their pockets but by their warfighting spirit, commitment to our mission and their people, and their excellence. In my estimation, the airmen of the Air National Guard have lived up to this standard very well.
Congratulations on your many achievements over the past two years, whether defending the homeland or fighting in our nation's wars, you've been there for America.
Danny, thanks again for having me here today. May God bless you and this wonderful home of ours, the United States.
Secretary of the Air Force James G. Roche
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|Author:||Roche, James G.|
|Publication:||Air Force Speeches|
|Date:||Dec 15, 2003|
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