The Low Cost Air Guard

The Low Cost Air Guard: The Command Chief Master Sergeant of the Air National Guard, CMSgt. Richard Smith, says ANG’s chief concern as the Air Force transforms itself into a leaner fighting force is to ensure the Air Guard performs missions that will not endanger its culture, specifically its “traditional, part-time role.” Smith testified before the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves last Thursday, explaining that ANG is 65 percent part-time and 35 percent full-time. It is that heavily weighted part-time structure that Smith says offers USAF “comparable combat capability at a significant cost savings.” For example, he says that ANG averages $3,703 for cost per flying hour with the F-16C/D, compared to $4,185 for Air Combat Command’s active duty force. The cost effectiveness is even greater for the F-15C/D, with $8,535 vs. $9, 601. That is why, says Smith, ANG is “ideally suited, structured, and positioned to maximize the capability of [the] Total Force.” (Some state governors were less circumspect last week when they let the commission know that the Pentagon is treading on thin ice with proposed Guard cuts.)