Closing the Air Alert Gap

The Air Force and Air National Guard are working to alleviate the rapidly approaching shortfall of fighter aircraft to perform the Air Sovereignty Alert mission, the bulk of which falls to the Air Guard, senior officials told the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness. Panel chairman Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Tex.) reminded hearing attendees that the 2009 defense authorization act required the Air Force to provide detailed budget information on costs, flying hours, and support for the ASA mission. Lt. Gen. Daniel Darnell, the deputy chief of staff for air, space, and information operations and plans and requirements, said that all but two of the ASA-supporting units have submitted proposed document statements. “When you have a document statement mission, a lot of other things fall into place,” Darnell said, citing training, funding, and organization. The Air Force and ANG are working to make the mission a long term funding mission area, he added. Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt III, Air Guard director, said that the lack of such mission documents has made ASA a bit of a “pick up game” with individual units left to work out details. The slightly “ad hoc system” has worked so far thanks to ANG volunteerism, Wyatt said but added that it would be better served with proper mission guidance.