Air Guard Issues Go Beyond Aircraft

In addition to having to work ever harder to sustain its elderly fleet of fighter aircraft, the Air National Guard has other “equipment challenges,” Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt III, ANG director, told the House Armed Services airland panel last week. In that list of challenges he includes: a shortage of security forces weapons because of depot delays; old communications networks; not enough depot-funded emergency management equipment for civil engineers; and a problem finding replacement parts for 1950s-vintage deployable air traffic control radars. As another example, he said that ANG’s ability to produce combat-ready tactical air control party airmen is hampered by insufficient equipment levels; the same is true, he said, for Air Guardsmen in training to man air operations centers. Wyatt said, too, that the problem is two-fold, because “these shortages affect not only our readiness for war, but our readiness to respond to domestic crisis.” Wyatt acknowledged that the Air Guard has a higher percentage of critical, dual-use equipment available than the Army Guard—84 percent vs. 65 percent—but he said “a lot of that is very old.” He continued: “The radar systems … are old; they’re decrepit, but because we’ve got some geniuses working the maintenance on those systems, we’re able to keep them running.” However, Wyatt asserted, “we’ve just about exhausted our capabilities to keep that equipment running.” (Also read, Murky Waters for Air Guard)