Troubled Associations

The Air Force is having a hard time reaching its goal of placing young Active Duty pilots in every Air National Guard and Reserve fighter unit to gain experience due to a shortage of maintainers and funds to support it, said assistant Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Stephen Hoog on Thursday. The Air Force is committed to standing up active associations at every Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command fighter squadron, “but the question is … how do we find the manpower,” Hoog said at an Air Force Association-sponsored, Air Force breakfast in Arlington, Va. Adding pilots means the units will fly more sorties and “if you’re going to do that, you’re going to need to put [in] more maintainers” that the Air Force simply doesn’t have, said Hoog. “If we don’t have 800 maintainers to send to the F-35, it’s going to be hard to send 350, or whatever [the] number is, to the Guard,” he added. Hoog said one solution might be to fund the Guard and Reserve to bring more maintainers on full-time, because the construct makes efficient use of existing assets to backfill the shortage of experienced fighter pilots. “We have a high percentage of iron in the Guard and Reserve and we have a problem seasoning our [Active Duty pilots,]” Hoog explained. “That relationship—either classic or active associate—is the way of the future,” he said. (See also The Associate Push from the June 2012 issue of Air Force Magazine.)