The Air National Guard is a lean and effective fighting force, but it should carefully choose which missions to expand in—and the upcoming round of budget deliberations is a very good time to examine what the ANG can and can’t do, Air Guard Director Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt said Tuesday at AFA’s Air & Space Conference. Missions with sustained high operations tempo are not an ideal fit for the ANG, Wyatt said in a conversation with reporters. The 193rd Special Operations Wing in Harrisburg, Pa., for example, is a specifically structured unit for broadcasting and psychological operations (now called Military Information Support Operations), but by and large the Air Guard does not have a large presence in special operations due to the demands on the field. Questions remain, also about the future of the remotely piloted aircraft field, he added, as ANG provides around 25 percent of the ground station and dissemination and exploitation manpower for this mission. “What is the steady state for this mission, is the question,” Wyatt noted. The nation has surged capacity in the RPA field into combat, in the last four years, but long term the field will have to normalize and that will influence how much the Guard gets involved. Drill status personnel with civilian jobs comprise about 70 percent of the Air Guard, and if certain fields are going to be high demand for a long time, careful attention must be paid to how heavily the Air Guard wants to expand in these areas.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.