Wyatt Asks Air Guard Leaders to Look Ahead

WASHINGTON, Nov. 24, 2010 — Times are tough for the Air Nation­al Guard, but Air Force Lt. Gen. Har­ry “Bud” Wyatt III sees many “great” oppor­tu­ni­ties for his 106,700-member force to excel in the future.
“We know there is a mis­match right now of demands on the force and resources,” said Wyatt, the direc­tor of the Air Guard. “I think it will get worse before it gets bet­ter, but I don’t bring you a mes­sage of despair today.

“I bring you a mes­sage of hope and courage because I see great oppor­tu­ni­ty, because we are the most effi­cient force, the most capa­ble force that we have ever been. The coun­try can afford us before it can afford some oth­er things that [it] is look­ing at.”

Wyatt’s ques­tion for senior Air Guard lead­ers from around the coun­try is: “ANG 2025: Are We Ready?”

“Are we will­ing to make the tough choic­es that will pos­ture us for the future?” he asked.

The Air Force announced that Stew­art Air Nation­al Guard Base in New York is the pre­ferred base for eight C-17 Globe­mas­ter III air­craft.

“Through the next sev­er­al months and years, there will many of these announce­ments,” Wyatt said. “The ques­tions will be: Are they the type of announce­ments that we as an orga­ni­za­tion can embrace and take for­ward and excel the way we have excelled in our mis­sions in the past?”

Wyatt said the Air Guard should pre­pare for future demands now.

“We have got to start shap­ing that force today, to be ready to pro­vide the force that this coun­try needs in 2025,” he said.

Wyatt said the Air Guard has seen “sig­nif­i­cant change” over the last decade.

Air­men who have been in the Air Guard for 20 years or less, he said, have been focused on the Air Expe­di­tionary Force con­struct.

“They know noth­ing else,” Wyatt said. “They are used to it.”

Wyatt said that when he joined the Air Guard, the force was not built for such deploy­ments.

“We have evolved into an air expe­di­tionary force — an extreme­ly capa­ble air expe­di­tionary force. But what will be the demands of tomor­row?”

Wyatt said he also is proud of the Air Guard’s domes­tic response capa­bil­i­ty, but there are chal­lenges ahead for that mis­sion too.

“We have 30 per­cent less air­lift now than we did when we respond­ed to Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na,” Wyatt said, adding that in fis­cal year 2010 more than 100 emer­gen­cies across the coun­try gen­er­at­ed over 2,250 air­lift sor­ties.

“We are on call 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. If that’s not val­ue for Amer­i­ca, I don’t know what is,” he said.

The Air Guard is slat­ed to under­go many mis­sion changes next year, Wyatt said, as a result of the 2005 Base Realign­ment and Clo­sure Com­mis­sion.

“We have under­gone a lot of change and it has been under­tak­en in a short time peri­od,” he said. “The rate of change is not slow­ing at all. We need to reflect on the impli­ca­tions of what we have done in the past as we look to the future of the Air Nation­al Guard.”

The Air Guard has been through try­ing times before, Wyatt said, not­ing that when Air Force Maj. Gen. Win­ston P. “Wimpy” Wil­son was the direc­tor of the Air Nation­al Guard, he lost 50 per­cent of his air­craft due to resource con­stric­tions. Wil­son con­vert­ed into more mod­ern air­craft and diver­si­fied the force into non-fly­ing mis­sions, Wyatt said.

On the oth­er hand, when Air Force Lt. Gen. John B. Conaway was direc­tor of the Air Nation­al Guard dur­ing the Rea­gan years, he was faced with a flood of resources.

“He took advan­tage of the land­scape and he moved us for­ward,” Wyatt said of Conaway’s achieve­ments.

Wyatt said he needs his senior lead­ers to help him decide how to go for­ward. He plans to con­duct an inter­nal review this year to get an “hon­est assess­ment” of the Air Guard. “We will not lose momen­tum,” he said. “We owe our air­men that effort.”

Wyatt said the key to the Air Guard’s future is to: “Fig­ure out what we do best, what we do most effi­cient­ly, most cost-effec­tive­ly and grab it!”

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

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