Absorbing the Shock of Manpower Shortages

JB Langley-Eustis, Va. The increasing involvement of Air National Guard and Reserve pilots into Active Duty flying units has been a “shock absorber” of the growing pilot crisis and enabled USAF to keep some wings healthier than others. Col. Peter Fesler, commander of the 1st Fighter Wing here, said his wing has seen the impact of the pilot and maintainer shortage, but it hasn’t been “particularly bad” because of the integration with the Virginia Air National Guard. “The Guard provides us a pretty stable pool of manpower that’s unchanging,” Fesler said. On the maintenance side, Langley has not necessarily seen a shortage of airmen but instead has faced a lack of experience in its maintenance ranks. There are junior enlisted maintainers who don’t have years of experience working on aircraft, and that’s where having experienced Guardsmen can help as well, Fesler said.