Donley Lauds Air Guard’s Capability, Reach

WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2010 — The Air Force’s senior civil­ian said the Air Nation­al Guard leads the way in pro­vid­ing “max­i­mum com­bat pow­er when and where the nation needs it, with the absolute best val­ue for each and every tax­pay­er dol­lar.”
“Our nation’s glob­al reach, as it exists today, would be impos­si­ble with­out the con­tri­bu­tions of the Guard,” Air Force Sec­re­tary Michael B. Don­ley said last week dur­ing remarks at the Air Nation­al Guard’s 2010 Senior Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence here.

Don­ley, the conference’s keynote speak­er, focused on the role the Air Guard has in the Air Force and the future of the total force ini­tia­tive. “As the guar­an­tors of the Air Force’s con­tract with the Amer­i­can peo­ple to keep our skies safe, you have been annu­al­ly respon­si­ble for 94 per­cent of our alert sites and up to 60 per­cent of the active inter­cepts of per­form­ing the air sov­er­eign­ty mis­sion,” he said.

Don­ley also acknowl­edged the oper­a­tional impor­tance of the Guard to Iraq and Afghanistan mis­sions. “Your con­tri­bu­tions were crit­i­cal to the move­ment of over five mil­lion tons of car­go and 13 mil­lion pas­sen­gers to Afghanistan,” he said. “And that was before the surge even began.”

In addi­tion to bring­ing glob­al vig­i­lance and reach, the Air Guard also pro­vides glob­al pow­er to the fight with 29 per­cent of the Air Force’s fight­er attack air­craft. “Guard fight­ers pro­vide close air sup­port, dom­i­nat­ing the high ground through armed watch over ground patrols and some­times shap­ing insur­gent behav­ior with sim­ply a loud and time­ly show of force,” Don­ley said.

“Sup­port­ing the joint fight … the Guard has been pro­vid­ing 25 per­cent of all remote­ly pilot­ed air­craft sor­ties,” he said. “Not to men­tion the pro­cess­ing, exploita­tion and dis­sem­i­na­tion of the infor­ma­tion that they col­lect.”

Final­ly, Air Guard res­cue units have deployed repeat­ed­ly and per­formed hero­ical­ly by recov­er­ing ser­vice­mem­bers with crit­i­cal bat­tle­field injuries from hot land­ing zones, he said. “These mis­sions and oth­ers that the Guard is per­form­ing are crit­i­cal to our suc­cess in Afghanistan and Iraq, where we are count­ed on by our joint and coali­tion part­ners to pro­vide glob­al vig­i­lance,” he said. “In a sim­i­lar fash­ion … over half of our air­lift and refu­el­ing fleet is oper­at­ed by the reserve com­po­nent, with 40 per­cent of our air-refu­el­ing capa­bil­i­ty alone resid­ing in the Guard.

“Each of you and your units has con­tributed to the suc­cess of our total force,” he said.

Don­ley also rec­og­nized that all of these mis­sions were accom­plished by tra­di­tion­al Guards­men, who have fam­i­lies back home.

“Many of you are accom­plish­ing all of this while bal­anc­ing a full-time civil­ian job and fam­i­ly,” he said. “I still don’t know how you do it all.”

One key is the Guard’s Yel­low Rib­bon Pro­gram, which pro­vides infor­ma­tion, ser­vices, refer­rals and proac­tive out­reach oppor­tu­ni­ties.

“I am espe­cial­ly impressed with your rapid deploy­ment of air­men and fam­i­ly readi­ness pro­gram man­agers,” Don­ley said. “You find unique and inno­v­a­tive ways to reach out to fam­i­ly mem­bers that are often dis­bursed geo­graph­i­cal­ly across your state.”

Don­ley said he also is impressed with the reach of the Air Guard with 106,700 mem­bers in 88 wings and 200 geo­graph­i­cal­ly sep­a­rat­ed units around the coun­try.

“Your geo­graph­ic foot­print … can also help make us a more diverse and stronger Air Force,” he said. “In some states, Guard instal­la­tions rep­re­sent the only Air Force pres­ence, mak­ing you a crit­i­cal link from the total force to the state and local com­mu­ni­ties.

“Beyond your geo­graph­ic reach, you’re also bring­ing diver­si­ty because of the civil­ian per­spec­tives and vary­ing skill sets you bring to your work,” he said.

Don­ley said the Air Force’s senior lead­er­ship is proud of the Air Guard’s com­mit­ment to the states and the coun­try.

“It is the sus­tained com­mit­ment of the Nation­al Guard that has helped give mean­ing to the term ‘total force’ in com­mu­ni­ties across Amer­i­ca,” he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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