April Commander's Corner
By Lt. Col. Allen Stewart, 169th Mission Support Group vice commander
/ Published March 21, 2014
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --
Referencing the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, 30 January 2014, "The Air Force faces many challenges in meeting it national security mission within the resources currently envisioned. Doing so will not be without risk, nor will it permit the application of traditional methods of allocating missions, equipment, and resources among the Air Force's three components...Part-time force structure - that capability delivered by traditional Reservists and Guardsmen who do not serve continuously on active duty - costs less than the force structure provided by fulltime personnel....Recognizing that some missions must be performed by the active component, the Air Force can, and should, entrust as many missions as possible to its reserve component forces".
These are a few of the opening remarks in the aforementioned report regarding the future of our U.S. Air Force. It's a 127 page report, but the meat of it is in the first 55 pages. What does this report mean for McEntire, and you as an individual, in the future? In Chapter 3, the report discusses "Rebalancing the Components". It states the USAF currently has, and plans to establish, "120 associate units". Some may be classic associations and some may be active associations, as we have here at McEntire. While we started the biggest USAF fighter wing active associate unit, the USAF, and the experts who wrote this report, have bought into the association concept. It is here to stay for the foreseeable future. The report goes on to talk about "i-Wings", where associate units have a single chain of command. As well, squadrons can be broken down into an "i-Squadron", made up of active, fulltime Guardsmen and traditional Guardsmen. The concept envisions those leadership positions, enlisted and officer, being filled by any combination of these three types of Airmen. The squadron operates as a single command, instead of as side-by-side commands.
The report talks about ensuring "fair allocation of opportunities. Failing to do so will destroy the trust relationship of the i-Wing". With tight budgets and limited resources, it appears the USAF is on the road to a full restructuring. As we know from the last wing assessment, we have some issues to work on to make our active associate the best in the USAF. It's going to take trust among ourselves to become the fully integrated unit the USAF and our civilian leaders have envisioned. Hopefully, the restructuring will "create additional opportunities for reserve component personnel to deploy on a regular and recurring basis making better use of their capabilities, and reducing the frequency and duration of deployments by active component personnel". In essence, the report states we all need to work together and use the best each component has to offer to make the best use of resources. We owe that to ourselves and we owe it to the taxpayers to be as lean and efficient as we can. I know we are the USAF's #1 unit. What better place to be to achieve those goals than at McEntire Joint National Guard Base!