Air Guard Steps Up When Needed

Air National Guard units provide an incredible amount of experience and capability for a fraction of the cost of comparable active duty organizations, something which needs to be reemphasized in the upcoming budget cutting and restructuring, ANG Director Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt told attendees Tuesday at AFA’s Air & Space Conference. “Some folks say the Guard is not accessible; I would say they are innocently misinformed,” Wyatt said of internal debates at the Pentagon, but he added that there could also be an element of purposeful disinformation going on. He highlighted the Air Guard’s role in March’s Operation Odyssey Dawn/Unified Protector, the Libya no-fly zone enforcement, noting it was Brig. Gen. Roy Uptegraff—commander of the Pennsylvania ANG’s 171st Air Refueling Wing and a veteran KC-135 pilot—who was tapped to set up a expeditionary wing at Moron AB, Spain, to support refueling operations. Uptegraff led the effort to muster 22 air refueling aircraft—14 of which were Guard tankers—to Spain in less than a week, Wyatt said. “There was no mobilization authority for Libya,” Wyatt noted, but Uptegraff mustered a force of more than 800 active duty, Guard, and Reserve airmen days after the resolution came down. The Guard was accessible even without mobilization authority, Wyatt said, as the President had a great deal of ability within current legislation to use Air Guard forces. “What part of accessibility am I missing here?” Wyatt asked.