The Minnesota Air National Guard’s 148th Fighter Wing is actively courting the Air Force to install an active associate unit at its Duluth International Airport base, according to a June 13 report by the Duluth News Tribune. The Air Force’s first community-basing active associate unit, which put active duty airmen in Burlington, Vt., working with the Vermont ANG’s 158th FW, was a hit with lawmakers who want to preserve their Guard and Reserve units and with USAF which capitalizes on the experience of the airmen in the two reserve components. Money became an issue after the Vermont test, but USAF now has reconfirmed the Burlington model and plans more community-basing-type active associate units. However, 148th FW and Duluth officials are concerned about the gap facing the Air Guard unit before it gets the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. They got a chance to “pitch the idea of a long-term mission for the 148th” and discuss the active associate possibility with Lt. Gen. Craig McKinley, ANG Director, who was in Duluth last week. Chamber of Commerce President David Ross told the News Tribune that he expects some decisions to be made over the next few months that will plot future missions. He said, “Our work is cut out for us.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.