Wednesday, June 29, 2005

BRAC 2005

Whether by design or ignorance, this BRAC closure is start of the elimination of the Air National Guard.

The Air Force has long been uncomfortable with the ANG.

They do not like that the ANG has resources they cannot deploy at will without regard to political consequences. They do not like the well known fact that the Air Force did not win a Fighter Weapons meet known as Gunsmoke for over 15 years. The ANG had at least the top 3 places until they no longer had current generation aircraft. The Air Force is uncomfortable with the fact that ANG units consistently have better aircraft availability due to better maintenance. They do not like the fact that ANG units normally lead missions in both real like and exercises because of their far greater depth of experience.

They wish to ignore the fact that ANG units operate on roughly 38% of the budget of an active duty unit.

They did not like the ANG to be the cutting edge of the sword. Thus, the push a few years ago to change ANG fighter squadrons over to close air support, tankers and transports, missions long looked down on by Air Force leadership.

The 163 Air Refueling Wing at March Field is slated for stand down. This unit was the Air Force Fighter Mobility Squadron for five years while flying F-4C and F-4E aircraft. That means it was the first unit to leave the states in an emergency. For several years it was the only precision guided munitions capability the Air Force had. The Air Force brought the F-117 out of the black world to drop precision guided munitions in Panama for the invasion rather than use the 163 TFW. They missed by the way.

When the 163rd switched to KC-135 Air Refueling Tankers, they continued to lead the way. They re-wrote the Air Force’s Tanker Formation Flying Procedures in their first year. Their aircraft configuration standard was adopted Air Force wide. They commanded and flew more missions than any other tanker unit in the recent Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts. They had the highest mission capable rate in the entire Air Force structure, flying 45 year old aircraft. They have consistently had the highest Operational Readiness Inspection ratings of any Air Forces unit, Active, Reserve or Air Guard.

This unit is being stood down in favor of an Air Force Reserve unit whose performance is near bottom.

Why?

The Air Force has far greater control over Reserve units.

The fact is the ANG is the Air Force their recruiter promised them and they just don’t like that at all.