Air Guard Falls under Authorized End Strength

The Air National Guard has fallen below its congressionally authorized end strength in this fiscal year thanks in large part to recent uncertainties regarding missions and budget turmoil, Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke, ANG director, told lawmakers last week. As of March 8, there were 104,204 Air Guardsmen, 1,496 under the Fiscal 2013 authorized level, stated Clarke in his April 17 prepared testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense panel. Clarke noted that throughout Fiscal 2013, Air Guard recruiters have “met or exceeded” monthly accession goals; however, monthly losses were higher than expected. “Fiscal uncertainty, force structure changes, and mission turmoil, combined with the drawdown of the war in Afghanistan, are the primary causes of the increased loss rate,” said Clarke. To attack the problem, ANG officials have taken steps like increasing recruiting goals and offering bonuses or incentives to more career fields, he said. The Air Guard also is introducing tools so that unit commanders can better identify loss trends, he said. “Overall, I’m very confident in our ability to not only meet end strength, but to recruit and retain the skill sets necessary to perform the missions the nation asks of its Guard airmen,” stated Clarke.