What’s Ahead for Reservists and Air Guardsmen?

Sept. 1, 1956
In making the “ConAC Report,” rather than touching on those things we are doing, I would like to use this opportunity to speak to you of some of the things we are thinking about. I would like to use this Reserve Forces Seminar as a sounding board for some new ideas pertaining to the utilization of Reserve forces of the future.

My headquarters is busy in thinking about the period from 1960 on. Both General Hall and I intend to convene Board of Officers composed of Regular, National Guard, and Air Reserves to look at the capabilities of the Reserves in the light of problems facing the Air Force in its determination to meet its responsibilities in furthering national objectives.

All of us in the Air Force realize that we are playing “for keeps.” On the one hand we know we have an aggressive aggressor who doesn’t like the way we do business and plans to do us under. On the other hand we know he fears the unique capability of Americans in this Airpower Age.

We feel optimistic that we have and are developing weapon systems which can knock out any kind of target, big war or fringe. We recognize that war is a nasty business and that to carry out the national objectives it is our job to create those forces and that attitude which can bring to bear the sort of destruction which will keep the peace.

In the light of this serious business confronting us and in view of the vastly increased cost of weapon systems and the training of individuals to operate these systems, we have to use everything we have effectively.

Our Reserves for the most part represent a manpower pool of experienced individuals expensively trained by the Air Force. Many are engaged in civilian skills of immediate application to their military jobs.

In one unit on two weeks’ field duty I recently visited, I walked into a machine shop. There were four machinists on duty making a new T-Bird tow-target reel. All of these fellows in civilian life were tool and die makers. All are volunteers, like the Air Force and take pride in service to our country. Many of the younger fellows enlist in the Regular Air Force after brief period of experience with a Reserve unit.

I am convinced in this era when the civilian population, as well as the military, may be subject simultaneously to the horrors of war, that the Reservist has a new and realistic attitude about the part he can play in the defense of our country.

He wants to use his training, already paid for, on a part-time basis to be vitally useful. We in the Air Force feel our first priority job is to be decisively effective on D-Day and the period immediately following. How then can we best employ the Reservist in the period immediately ahead—1960 on?

In thinking of this problem one has to take a look at the typical Reservist himself—who is this fellow? Most of our key people in the Reserve forces are veterans. They are men of considerable combat or administrative experience.

Last week I visited two units on their two weeks’ summer encampments. At the 108th Fighter-Interceptor Wing summer encampment at Otis Air Force Base, I was shown around by Col. Don Strait. Everyone here knows that Don is a World War II fighter ace and has been active in the National Guard program ever since his discharge, except during the Korean emergency, when he commanded a fighter-bomber group.

He has a fine unit equipped with F-86Es. His pilots were actively engaged in gunnery exercises. They were handling jets easily but carefully, with considerable attention to accident prevention.

His ground personnel presented a scene of orderly activity, testing aircraft components, loading guns, doing all necessary to get the aircraft off on schedule. Minor engine discrepancies forced the pulling, repairing, and replacement of ten jet engines. All this work and training was taken in stride by this efficient organization.

Over at Clinton County, the 459th Troop Carrier Wing (the “Congressional Wing”) from Andrews Air Force Base was in training. When I got there one squadron of the unit was airborne in C-46s, engaged in a massed precision aerial drop.

Col. Ramsey Potts, the commander, had his ground maintenance personnel organized into three shifts, working around the clock keeping his aircraft in commission. He also was right on his intensive training schedule.

As we know, Ramsey Potts had a distinguished World War II record. He lead a group on the Ploesti raids. Ramsey in civilian life is a lawyer but he keeps up with his military duties and has a unit which can be relied upon to be useful on D-Day.

Strait and Potts happened to be commanders of the only two units I visited last week. We have many other fine National Guard and Air Reserve unit commanders of like caliber.

Well, the average individual Reservist is a businessman or in one of the civil professions—lawyer, CPA, doctor. He likes the Air Force, he likes to participate in its training.

If he is in a Category A unit in the National Guard or Air Reserve, he engages in forty-eight periods and two weeks of active duty. If he is a pilot or a member of a flying crew, he has thirty-six additional drill periods, making an equivalent total for the aircrew types of approximately ninety-nine days’ duty a year.

All of these days are working days for which this typical fellow receives federal compensation in terms of pay commensurate with rank and rating. The other 266 days this typical Reservist is engaged in his civilian occupation.

If he is in the individual Mobilization Training Program, and we have a need for about 110,000, he participates in from fifteen days of active duty to forty-eight inactive-duty periods, plus the fifteen days of active duty, annually. The MDs, lawyers, and civilian professional types usually only take the fifteen days’ training, while the rated, administrative, and technical types participate in the more frequent training schedules.

There is a great deal of, talent amongst the Reserves. There is an outstanding willingness to play the Air Force game. As I increase my experience with Reservists, my appreciation for their capabilities and admiration for their spirit mounts with each passing day.

Now then, what to do about this talent in the future in the light of this serious business facing the Air Force. I am not at all convinced at the moment that we are gearing our thinking and planning to making the maximum contribution.

The group that General Hall and I intend to get together from the Air National Guard, the Air Reserves, and from the Regular Air Force, will take a cold, hard look at the capability of the typical Reservist) the substantial reservoir of veterans who are and will be available, and of young men who are interested in contributing to the United States Air Force in a Reserve capacity.

We hope to uncover functions which the Air Reserve and National Guard can do to live up to the concept of a vital D-Day ready component of the United States Air Force. Personally I think that the concept of second-line equipment to the Reserves is OK for today’s D-Day Reserve mission.

On the other hand, in this age of very expensive weapon systems and training incident to their use, we should not overlook the possibility of Reservists’ manning new weapon systems thus permitting the Regular Air Force to concentrate on those systems not at all practical for the part-time airman.

Take a typical Reserve tactical type unit of the future as we see it. Not only will there be available veterans with Air Force experience, but also many whose civilian occupations fit right into military performances.

Also, we believe we will have a hard core of full-time duty Reservists, both in the Air Reserve as well as the Air National Guard, employed on a civil status during the week and on any inactive-duty status during drill periods. These individuals, about twenty percent of each unit, will have very little turnover, will live in the community, and should be in all respects a very stable, highly skilled group of working technicians and administrators.

It seems to me that a typical Reserve unit with this hard-core, skilled technician group and with volunteers agreeing to participate in scheduled drill periods and two weeks of summer training, would be an ideal unit to operate some of the near population centers missile sites of the future.

One can hear the fly boys groaning at this sort of thinking. They want to continue to man the cockpits, and I believe they should on a carefully selected basis. Particularly if there is a need for a manned aircraft type to fit into D-Day role, or some other war plan of the United States Air Force. But I believe this should be the criteria, not influenced in any way by the foreseeable availability of second-line aircraft.

If more and more cargo airlift is a continuing requirement in the Air Age, and I believe it is, there is no question in my mind but that the Reserves, both the Air Reserve and Air National Guard, can do a good job. They are doing well today.

Equipped with C-119s and C-46s, the troop carrier units of the Air Reserve have been running a mission into the Caribbean carrying Coast Guard supplies to down-the-range guided missile installations.

As of the end of July a total of eighty-seven missions have been flown and 431,500 pounds have been delivered without any sweat at all. We are halfway through this operation scheduled to deliver 900,000 pounds.

In the meantime, these troop carrier units are engaged in their normal summer encampment tactical exercises. I feel we are losing a bet in our determination to have the Reserves more useful by not having more airlift capabilities in our Reserve forces.

In any event, these are the sort of things that we are looking at, all with the ilea of affording an opportunity for the maximum contribution of trained, highly motivated civilian military types, who are eager to fit into the Air Force program on the basis of being vitally useful.

There is still another matter somewhat relating to the employment of the Reserves which I would like to discuss with this group. This matter pertains to a name. The big responsibility of ConAC, the Continental Air Command, as you know is the administration and training of the Air Reservist and the supervision of training the Air National Guardsman.

The designation of ConAC does not portray this primary duty of my command. Frequently my command’s operation is confused with General “Pat” Partridge’s ConAD. I don’t in the least object to this) nor does Pat.

Actually the fighter-interceptor types of the National Guard, and there are twenty-three wings, and the nine fighter-bomber wings of the Air Reserve for which ConAC has training responsibility, either do or will tie into the Air Defense system. So in a sense we do participate in the ConAD.

But I do feel somewhat like the head of a firm—who got a call one day—”Is this Peabody, Finchley, Longworth, and Fitzgerald?” “Yes, this is Peabody, Finchley, Longworth, and Fitzgerald.” “I want to speak to Mr. Smith.”

All of us in my headquarters and in the headquarters of the numbered Air Forces are proud of the fact that our primary mission has to do with our Reserve forces. I am thinking seriously of proposing to the Chief of Staff that he redesignate our command as the Air Reserve Forces Command. I think this redesignation is highly symbolic of our primary mission and will give the Air Reservists, both the National Guardsman and Air Force Reservist, a feeling of better participation in the airpower picture.

LT. GEN. CHARLES B. STONE III, Commander of the Continental Air Command, Mitchel AFB, N. Y., was born in Georgia in 1904. He was graduated from West Point in 1927 and from flying school in 1930. During World War II he went to China to organize headquarters for the Fourteenth AF (Flying Tigers), and then assumed command of it later. He became Deputy Chief of Staff, Comptroller in 1951 and assumed his present position in 1955. He is a command pilot and an aircraft observer.