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June Commander's Corner

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Walter Hummel, the 245th Air Traffic Control Squadron commander at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina Air National Guard, May 26, 2016. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Walter Hummel, the 245th Air Traffic Control Squadron commander at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina Air National Guard, May 26, 2016. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- Greetings Swamp Fox! As always, thank you for your service and thank you for the opportunity to serve with you. As I approach 28 years of service in the Air National Guard, I have seen an incredible expansion of our mission sets and capabilities. A very recent change in our mission set is the embrace of our state mission by the SCANG. The Army Guard has many more years of experience in conducting domestic operations (DOMOPS) and natural disaster response. Many articles of been written about our recent successes and outstanding work during the October 2015 flood and the previous Vigilant Guard exercises, so I won't rehash those accolades. I would like to discuss how this new opportunity affects every Airman in the SCANG.

Structurally, both the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard present the governor with individual capabilities called Force Packages for use during a state emergency. These Force Packages are similar to the Unit-Type Codes (UTC) we have postured to support combatant commanders in our federal mission. Currently, the SCANG has 67 Force Packages of various capabilities containing 241 personnel tasked for specific missions. These range anywhere from firefighting, medical services and air traffic control, just to name a few. As there are around 1,400 people in the SCANG, it is likely you are not postured against one of these Force Packages. This does not mean there is not a mission for you in the event of a natural disaster or state emergency. You can still be called to State Active Duty (SAD) to assist anywhere the Governor needs you. Therefore, our state mission, just like a federal mission, requires us to be prepared.  Even if you're not part of a Force Package, your daily readiness is just as important as being prepared to deploy overseas. There are a number of things that individual guardsmen who are not tasked with a specific mission can do. These include filling sandbags, debris removal or even assisting with casualty recovery work. The following are a few notes for State Active Duty Readiness.

1. Administrative: Medical clearance, shots, wills, etc. All of these administrative-type things are just as important in preparation for state activation as they are for going on a deployment. Make sure your data is up-to-date in the pay system. SAD pay is based on active duty base pay without the extra entitlements. Other entitlements may be available based on where you're deployed to if you are somewhere in the state other than the local area. You could be in a per diem status or food and lodging could be provided to you by either our Single Pallet Expeditionary Kitchen (SPEK) Force Package or a similar Army Guard mission set.

2. Equipment: Check your gear, uniforms, Load-Bearing Equipment (LBE) and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Make sure you have accountability for any equipment you have been issued that may be needed if called to SAD. Make sure this equipment is serviceable and obtain a replacement if it is not. You may not need chemical gear during a hurricane, but your web belt, LBE, canteen and mess kit may be critical during these missions.

3. Flexibilty: Just like our federal mission, know your job.....but expect to do a different job. Anybody tasked by the governor can be subject to do something other than their primary Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) mission. So, while the Control Tower Force Package may be forward deployed to a location providing ATC services to emergency recovery aircraft, after operations begin, many of the people in that Force Package may be tasked to go help with debris removal, so safety gear is always a must.

In conclusion, our state mission is just as important as our federal mission. Both require us to be ready in keeping with our motto, Semper Primus! Thanks again for all you do and thank you for maintaining your readiness for the mission that serves our community.