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Air National Guard experiencing transformation process

by Master Sgt. Bob Haskell
National Guard Bureau Public Affairs

6/8/2004 - ARLINGTON, Va. (AFPN) -- The Air National Guard has developed its own way of transforming its forces to meet “The Way Ahead” initiatives of Army Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, and to remain relevant to the active Air Force.

Air National Guard officials call it “Vanguard,” the long-range transformation program to downsize its fleet of airplanes at the same pace as the Air Force while taking on other missions.

The Air Guard will lose, for example, about one-third of its fighters throughout the coming years. The reason is because one B-2 Spirit bomber can drop the same number of bombs on a target as 12 to 18 F-16 Fighting Falcons, Guard Bureau spokesman Dan Donohue said. Or six new F-22 Raptors can deliver the same amount of ordnance as nine F-16s.

Considering it will have fewer planes to fly and maintain, the Air Guard is exploring other ways to serve the country, Mr. Donohue said. These include increasing the size of its base defense forces, so Army Guard Soldiers no longer have to guard bases in this country and devoting more assets to information warfare, intelligence and unmanned reconnaissance aircraft.

General Blum told Guard leaders in the 54 states and territories, the entire National Guard family, and the national media his concept for moving the 460,000 guardsmen into the 21st century. He said “The Way Ahead” is doing what is right for America.

The general said he believes the Guard has to change from a strategic reserve that was standing by during the Cold War into an operational force that is already actively engaged in the war against terrorism in the United States, Iraq and Afghanistan.