Despite the ability of the Air National Guard to absorb new missions, ANG boss Lt. Gen. Craig McKinley says there must be a conscious decision to ensure the Air Guard doesn’t become a “plug and play” force. McKinley told attendees Sept. 17 at AFA’s Air & Space Conference, that there has to be a trade-off between the Guard’s responsibilities to governors and to its federal mission. For example, he said, that there are now 14 states that have Air Guardsmen who support space missions, which have little rollover to state needs. He said, “Our Air Force has not put anything off the table” in opening new opportunities particularly for units hard hit by BRAC 2005 and noted that AFSPC would like to increase ANG support to space. McKinley believes that there probably is room to increase such support, but he cautions that there must be a careful balance struck.
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.