The Air National Guard should be able to assist the Air Force overcome its personnel shortages as long as the service provides predictable requests, National Guard Bureau chief Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel said Wednesday. The Air Force leadership has said it is looking to the Guard and Reserve components to fill personnel shortages in areas such as cyber, pilots, and maintainers while the service works to increase the Active Duty end strength. During a meeting with the Defense Writers Group in Washington, D.C., Lengyel, who also oversees the Army National Guard, said the Air Force and Air National Guard are already deeply integrated. “The Air Force has built a system now that can’t do any operational mission without a portion of the Air National Guard,” he said, noting the Guard makes up 60 percent of the tanker fleet, has 26 fighter squadrons, has members in space and cyber units, and even B-2 pilots. “We’re in places where we are completely, totally, seamlessly integrated with the Air Force,” said Lengyel. But further dependence will require predictability so the Guard can schedule deployments in a way that is not too disruptive to Guard members’ civilian employment. “We need predictability. If you can give me predictability, I can probably find a way to give the Air Force the capability and the capacity that it needs,” Lengyel said. “Going the way ahead, there’s additional capacity for us to provide more, particularly in the Army, on a regular basis.”
More than 100 B-21s will be needed if the nation is to avoid creating a high demand/low capacity capability, panelists said on a Hudson Institute webinar. The B-21's flexibility, stealth, range and payload will be in high demand for a wide range of missions, both traditional and new.