National Guard April 2011 : Page 34

STATE OF THE AIR NATIONAL GUARD Total Force or Total Farce? Recent actions by the Air Force greatly undervalue citizen-airmen and could be costly to the nation By Brig. Gen. William R. Burks HERE WAS A time when the Air Force was the undisputed leader in the implementation of the Total Force policy. But the service has been unable to lay claim to that title for some time. To understand why, consider some of its recent actions. On a crisp fall day in 2010, volunteerism in the Air Na-tional Guard and the Air Force Reserve was dealt a severe, if not fatal, blow. At the fall CORONA meeting where the Air Force senior leadership gathers to discuss policy, it was determined— with no input from the Guard in the field—that all airmen deploying with an Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) would adhere to the Air Force standard of 179 days. There would be no replacement, or “rainbowing,” of deployed troops during the deployment cycle. The reason, it was said, was to save deployment costs. This has been pretty hard for rank-and-file Guardsmen to stomach. It is a dramatic change—and an inconvenient one—from the original tenets of the AEF . When AEF was created in the late 1990s, representa-tives from top levels of the Air Force, including the Guard and Reserves, were included in the process. Two bedrock concepts came out of those original meet-ings. They were, one, the AEF would provide essential deployment predictability, and, two, all reserve-component members could be replaced during a deployment. The second tenet was devised to reduce the negative impact of multiple deployments on employers or, in the case of business owners in uniform, customers. T The first tenet is still valid. The second has gone the way of the dodo bird. Volunteerism has been the vehicle driving the “rainbow-ing” in the AEF . Individual Air Guardsmen and Reservists are best able to manage their own individual situations. Having the option to volunteer when it suited a dual-hat-ted member’s military and civilian life served the needs of all sides of the equation, including that of the nation. The decision made last fall without input from the peo-ple it most affected diminishes the incentive to volunteer. Involuntary mobilizations will now become the norm. In the long term, this will have the reverse cost-saving impact the Air Force wanted when you consider the in-crease in personnel life-cycle costs. If killing volunteerism isn’t bad enough, the Air Force, under the guise of cost-cutting, included a provision in the president’s 2012 budget proposal ( story, page 38 ) to change the combat coding on 18 Guard F-16s from pri-mary assigned aircraft to backup aircraft inventory. This will leave six fighter wings with only 15 aircraft. However, what will really hurt the impacted states is the resulting loss of personnel. Each wing will also lose one full-time and 76 part-time maintainers. This overall loss of six full-time personnel and 456 part-time personnel will represent a total loss of 158 full-time equivalents and save the Air Force roughly $15.8 million, which pales compared to the upheaval it causes in airmen’s lives and in the wings. Consider, too, the loss in the ability of those 462 individ-uals to surge to meet either a state or national emergency. 34 | Na tional Guard

State Of The Air National Guard

Brig. Gen. William R. Burks

Total Force or Total Farce?<br /> <br /> Recent actions by the Air Force greatly undervalue citizen-airmen and could be costly to the nation<br /> <br /> THERE WAS A time when the Air Force was the undisputed leader in the implementation of the Total Force policy.<br /> <br /> But the service has been unable to lay claim to that title for some time. To understand why, consider some of its recent actions.<br /> <br /> On a crisp fall day in 2010, volunteerism in the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve was dealt a severe, if not fatal, blow.<br /> <br /> At the fall CORONA meeting where the Air Force senior leadership gathers to discuss policy, it was determined– with no input from the Guard in the field–that all airmen deploying with an Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) would adhere to the Air Force standard of 179 days.<br /> <br /> There would be no replacement, or "rainbowing," of deployed troops during the deployment cycle.<br /> <br /> The reason, it was said, was to save deployment costs.<br /> <br /> This has been pretty hard for rank-and-file Guardsmen to stomach. It is a dramatic change–and an inconvenient one–from the original tenets of the AEF.<br /> <br /> When AEF was created in the late 1990s, representatives from top levels of the Air Force, including the Guard and Reserves, were included in the process.<br /> <br /> Two bedrock concepts came out of those original meetings. They were, one, the AEF would provide essential deployment predictability, and, two, all reserve-component members could be replaced during a deployment.<br /> <br /> The second tenet was devised to reduce the negative impact of multiple deployments on employers or, in the case of business owners in uniform, customers.<br /> <br /> The first tenet is still valid. The second has gone the way of the dodo bird.<br /> <br /> Volunteerism has been the vehicle driving the "rainbowing" in the AEF. Individual Air Guardsmen and Reservists are best able to manage their own individual situations. Having the option to volunteer when it suited a dual-hatted member's military and civilian life served the needs of all sides of the equation, including that of the nation.<br /> <br /> The decision made last fall without input from the people it most affected diminishes the incentive to volunteer. Involuntary mobilizations will now become the norm.<br /> <br /> In the long term, this will have the reverse cost-saving impact the Air Force wanted when you consider the increase in personnel life-cycle costs.<br /> <br /> If killing volunteerism isn't bad enough, the Air Force, under the guise of cost-cutting, included a provision in the president's 2012 budget proposal (story, page 38) to change the combat coding on 18 Guard F-16s from primary assigned aircraft to backup aircraft inventory.<br /> <br /> This will leave six fighter wings with only 15 aircraft.<br /> <br /> However, what will really hurt the impacted states is the resulting loss of personnel. Each wing will also lose one full-time and 76 part-time maintainers.<br /> <br /> This overall loss of six full-time personnel and 456 part-time personnel will represent a total loss of 158 fulltime equivalents and save the Air Force roughly $15.8 million, which pales compared to the upheaval it causes in airmen's lives and in the wings.<br /> <br /> Consider, too, the loss in the ability of those 462 individuals to surge to meet either a state or national emergency.<br /> <br /> It definitely appears that this is just another in a long list of examples of the active-component Air Force not considering the homeland defense mission in its programmatic decisions.<br /> <br /> If the field would have been consulted, I am sure another solution could have been found to save both the money and this surge capability.<br /> <br /> More accurately, it simply could have been pulled off the Air Force headquarters book shelf, where it is part of the forgotten Future Total Force studies from the late 1990s.<br /> <br /> Air Force officials could have achieved the manpower savings of $15.8 million while maintaining the surge capability by simply drawing down 237 active-component personnel and putting them in the Air Guard.<br /> <br /> The other side of the equation is the savings in operations and maintenance funding represented by grounding 18 aircraft. It goes without saying the O&M savings for taking those aircraft from the Guard is significantly less than removing the same number from the active component.<br /> <br /> Lastly, given the fact that the Guard and Reserve is now going to have to pull the same AEF deployment requirement as the active component, one wonders why any aircraft would ever be put in the active component. It has been a long-established fact that the reserve component is always cheaper to train. And the active component's knock on the reserve component has always been deployment access.<br /> <br /> This makes one wonder if this is just another spoke in the wheel of the Air Force's effort to slowly diminish the Air Guard fleet, especially in the context of the attempt to grab eight C-130 Hercules cargo planes from the Guard last year.<br /> <br /> That effort was initially much the same as the F-16 grounding. The exception being the aircraft and manpower billets were being transferred to Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., to support a temporary replacement training unit (RTU) for legacy C-130s.<br /> <br /> Again, the process had no transparency and the National Guard Bureau was sworn to secrecy.<br /> <br /> As a result of the strong opposition by the blindsided/ impacted adjutants general, the bureau was able to broker a deal whereby the C-130s would be loaned to the Arkansas Guard for use by the RTU.<br /> <br /> However, to date, no memorandum of understanding has been signed and the draft MOU still doesn't have a termination date. It also isn't with the Arkansas Guard, but now with the active component.<br /> <br /> In fact, the whole loan idea may violate the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, which prohibits the transfer of iron "without congressional notice and justification."<br /> <br /> Yet once again, if Air Force leaders had taken a solution off their Future Total Force studies shelf, they could have put the temporary RTU at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport with the Guard and Reserve C-130 wings there.<br /> <br /> The units have the airspace, simulators and personnel to accomplish the mission.<br /> <br /> However, when it was asked why that wasn't an option, no answer was given other than the RTU is at Little Rock.<br /> <br /> There are two issues developing regarding the aircraft that have been given to the active component–utilization and need.<br /> <br /> The aircraft loaned to the RTU in Little Rock are underutilized. One has been flown at the rate of 12 hours per month. The other checks in at about nine hours.<br /> <br /> As a comparison, the Arkansas Guard's 189th RTU currently programs 48 hours per tail, per month.<br /> <br /> I realize the program is in its infancy, but if the Air Force is taking aircraft and not flying them, it questions the need for them.<br /> <br /> Given all of this, the fear of it being a mere iron grab is more than justified.<br /> <br /> Also what has never been on the table with the C-130 loan program is the whole discussion of the common qualification for C-130H2 and H3.<br /> <br /> This common qualification between C-130H2s and H3s has and is occurring in theater, so there is a precedent.<br /> <br /> So why haven't the C-130H3s been included in the loaner program? The loan pain could be spread over a much wider fleet and reduce the time an aircraft is gone from any one unit, while also reducing the wear and tear on those aircraft by increased sortie rates of an RTU.<br /> <br /> What is plainly apparent is the transparency that was started by Gen. Michael E. Ryan, the Air Force chief of staff from 1997 to 2001, with the launching of the Future Total Force Studies, and further developed by his successors, has largely disappeared in the last couple of years.<br /> <br /> Current Air Force processes, to include corporate and strategic basing to name only two, are anything but open and transparent.<br /> <br /> The adjutants general know times are extremely difficult and different from any other in our history. They are also more than willing to sit down in an open, honest and transparent environment to address the operation demands, which are placing new stresses on all of our people and wearing out everyone's equipment.<br /> <br /> It's high time to forget the predetermined studies that assume away the requirements of the Guard and Reserve or other services to justify a decision, like was done with the Air Force's most recent mobility study that ignored homeland defense and direct-support missions.<br /> <br /> With costs spiraling out of control for personnel and many weapons systems, it's time for a new approach whereby all sides come together to find new and innovative ways to address the entire force.<br /> <br /> By bringing new folks to the table, the dogmas of placing old programmatic wine in new skins can be done away with once and for all.<br /> <br /> The result may be the first win-win in a long time for the Air Force's version of Total Force.<br /> --------------------------------------------------------------------------------<br /> <br /> Brig. Gen. William R. Burks is the NGAUS vice chairman-Air and the Nevada adjutant general. His earlier career highlights include 29 combat missions as an RF-4C Phantom II master navigator in the first Persian Gulf War and a series of recent assignments on the Air Force staff in the Pentagon during which he contributed to the last two Quadrennial Defense Reviews.<br /> <br /> On a crisp fall day in 2010, volunteerism in the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve was dealt a severe, if not fatal, blow.<br /> <br /> Current Air Force processes are anything but open and transparent. <br />

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