Total Force, The Hawaiian Way

Honolulu— The Aloha State is in a unique position to project US power across the Pacific Ocean, the world’s largest area of operations, Hawaii National Guard officials told the Daily Report in a briefing at their headquarters here. The state Air Guard’s 154th Wing at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam has 1,900 airmen under its command. It maintains, operates—and associates with—$5 billion worth of aircraft, including C-17 transports, F-22 fighters, and KC-135 tankers, they said. “We are kind of an Air Force almost unto ourselves,” said one official. Large bombers are rarely seen on Hickam’s ramp now, the officials said. That’s because of the tanker air bridge that the Air Force maintains—aided by the wing’s KC-135s—that enables passing aircraft to directly reach locations like Guam where heavy bombers have regularly rotated forward since 2004. If current force structure trends hold, the state’s Total Force integration efforts could serve as an example for the entire Air Force as the service seeks to stretch its dollars in coming years, they said.