Air National Guard Update|
9/29/2011 - NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (AFNS) -- Remarks during the Air Force Association Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition, from Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt, concerning the state of the Air National Guard, National Harbor at Oxon Hill, Md., Sept. 20, 2011.
I'm very proud of the Air National Guard. I'm going to talk a little bit later on about where the Air National Guard is positioned right now, at this particular time in history, and how it relates to some of the challenges that the country faces and the Department of Defense faces.
This last weekend I had the honor and privilege of addressing the 1st Fighter Association Reunion in Riverside, California at the Mission Inn. In attendance were eight World War II veterans, P-58 pilots -- seven pilots and an [inaudible]. There was an ace in the crowd by the name of Colonel Darrell Welch. He relayed about how he was fortunate one day to shoot down three German aircraft in a span of about 50 minutes. He had two before that particular day. By the end of the war he ended up with five kills. I had the privilege of addressing the crowd and I told him I was very honored to be in the presence of an ace, but he only had five more kills than I had. [Laughter].
We learned a lesson from those folks. They certainly are the world's greatest generation, but [inaudible].
This keeps cutting in and out.
We have a lot to learn from those gentlemen. I know they're the world's greatest generation, but we're raising if not the equivalent, pretty darn close to the equivalent right now. The Air National Guard along with the United States Air Force has been at war now for about 20 years. We've seen a transition from the time, in 1977 when I joined the Guard, after six years on active duty. I flew F-106s on active duty for six years, then transferred into the Tulsa Air National Guard to fly the F-100. Any old F-110 pilots in here? All right.
They've got the Super Saber Society, I don't know if you've joined yet. I'm a charter member of the Super Saber Society. I haven't paid my dues in a couple of years because I moved and they weren't [inaudible]. [Laughter]. But I intend to get reattached to those folks.
When I transferred into the Guard we were a strategic reserve. Flying the F-100 and we transitioned into the A-7. When I had an opportunity to talk to these P-38 guys and think about what they had done, I kind of went back in history, took them from when they left service in about 1945 at the conclusion of the war, and what had been done with all of those airplanes that this country built to fight that war. One of the smart things that generation did when the Air Force became a separate service in 1947 was they created the Air National Guard. I don't know if you know, but the bed-down plan was to take all the old Jugs and bed down the units east of the Mississippi and put Mustangs, P-51s, in those units west of the Mississippi River.
We had a fellow in Tulsa by the name of Gentleman Joe Turner who founded the Tulsa Air National Guard, and we had a guy by the name of Stan Newman who founded the Oklahoma City Air National Guard. Stan Newman was a P-51 pilot, had the honor of shooting down an ME-262, a twin engine German jet, a very rare thing to happen. But he's one of the guys to do that.
They were in a situation at that point in time kind of like we are at this point in time where the President says we're coming out of Iraq, we're doing that. We're going to be coming out of Afghanistan. We see the conclusion of at least ten years of combat for our Army subsequent to 9/11. There were some surplus airplanes but the Department of Defense was drawing down dramatically in size and end strength of what was in the Army Air Corps, but turned out to be the United States Air Force.
Those gentlemen had the wisdom to recognize that it's one thing to draw down numbers of airplanes; it's something else to draw down the talent that maintains and flies those airplanes. They recognized the importance of the combat skills that had been honed during World War II. They recognized the importance of providing a venue, a place where those men and soon to be women could continue flying, continuing practicing their maintenance expertise, because you never knew when the next war would come along. Certainly we all know that it wasn't long before Korea happened. Then it wasn't long before Vietnam happened. Then it wasn't long before Bosnia and Kosovo and Afghanistan and who knows where the next one will be.
So think about some of the things that Secretary Donley said yesterday. If any of you attended the luncheon yesterday with the Chief and the Secretary, with the MLAs, if you'll put 1945 and '47 into context with where we are right now, I think you can see that we have an opportunity maybe to not make this United States Air Force smaller but yet with a little bit of force structure adjustment maintain those highly trained combat skilled warriors that reside in our United States Air Force right now.
I'll get into that just a little bit later.
A couple of days back we marked the 10th Anniversary of September 11, 2001. It seems like yesterday but ten years has gone by. I joined the Air National Guard in 1977. We were not equipped nor were we trained to do what the Air National Guard did on September 11, 2001, and that was within six minutes of notification of a terrorist hijacking the Air National Guard had fighter jets airborne and responded to the call. Providing cover for the National Capital Region, New York City, and you've seen probably some of the stories that have been published over the past couple of weeks.
Heather Penny being directed to take down the flight that ended up crashing in Pennsylvania. And maybe you saw the discussion that she had with a guy by the name of Mark Sass that was airborne with her that day, how they were going to take down an airliner if directed to do so. Think about the awesome responsibility that that would entail, taking down an airliner with American citizens on board.
We've come to know that mission as Air Sovereignty Alert. It is performed now exclusively by the Air National Guard in 16 locations over the continental United States. They also cover Air Sovereignty Alert for Hawaii, PACAF, and the active duty covers Alaska out of Anchorage.
But the name is changing, in case you didn't know. It's not going to be ASA anymore, it's going to be ACA. Whenever you have a new combatant commander, he or she has the privilege of defining and naming what it is that that command does and NORAD/NORTHCOM have decided to call the mission formerly known as ASA, as ACA -- Aerospace Control Alert. So when I talk to ASA a little bit later on, and ACA, I'm really talking about the same thing.
But think about the transition that the Air National Guard made from 1977 when I joined the Guard as a strategic reserve to what the Guard was able to do on September 11, 2001 and what we are able to do today.
I transitioned into the A-7. It was back in the Cold War days. Some of you that are in my era remember that the Air National Guard practiced their checkered flag relocations when the Russian bear was anticipated to attack. Our particular mission out of Tulsa was to deploy within, get this, 90 days to Whittering Air Force Base, England, and prepare to meet the Russian hordes in the Fulda Gap as they came into Europe. Ninety days to get ready.
That doesn't work nowadays, does it?
We saw after Desert Storm I and the requirement to fly Northern Watch, Southern Watch and all the other missions worldwide, that the active component was burning its people at both ends, trying to do all the missions that the country expected our Air Force to do. So they came to the leaders of the Air National Guard, some of you are sitting in this room today. General Killey's over here. Fred Sloan's here. Bill Lynch is here. They came to the Air National Guard and said you guys need to get into the fight. Our leaders at that point in time said hey, we'll be happy to get into the fight, but if you want us to get into the fight you need to give us relevant aircraft, relevant capability. Thank goodness the United States Air Force has done that.
As we speak today your Air National Guard provides about 34 percent of the combat capability of the United States Air Force. About 33 percent of the fighters, about 45 percent of the tankers, about 30 percent of the C-130, about 20 percent or RPA, about 20 percent of Distributed Common Ground station, intelligence, processing exploitation, distribution. We are an operational force. And it started back in the mid 1990s when the Air Force recognized that we could no longer afford the luxury of having an operational force and a reserve force, a strategic reserve, that we could place on the shelf.
So we made that transition to the operational force that you see today.
Sometimes I hear individuals allege that the Air National Guard is, even though they're trained to the same standards, inaccessible, our description of capability statements requires us to deploy in the same timelines that the active component does, i.e., deploy downrange in 72 hours, start delivering combat sorties. The same standards. All of our officers are federally recognized. Our general officers have to go through the same Senate clearance processes as the active component. We train to the same standards.
You've heard our active duty counterparts say they can't tell the difference between the active duty, the Guard and Reserve. That's a good thing. That's the way it should be. It's a seamless meshing of these three components in the world's greatest Air Force. All due respect to our foreign friends who are in the room.
That's the way it should be. You heard Secretary Donley yesterday say that was one of his goals is to preserve the contributions of the total force and I applaud him for saying that.
But sometimes you hear individuals questioning accessibility of the Air National Guard. I'm going to talk about that accessibility. Sometimes you hear people accuse the Air National Guard of not being available, not being readily accessible. I would suggest to you that if you hear someone make that allegation you're either hearing from an individual who was innocently misinformed, ignorant of the facts, or for some reason is disingenuous in representing the true statement of the Air National Guard. Like I say, we are required by our construct to answer the call in the same timelines as the active component. We haven't missed a mission yet.
We do it a lot of times as volunteers. In the room today we've got Brigadier General Roy Uptegraff. Roy, raise your hand. I'm going to embarrass him right now, but this is nothing to be embarrassed about. It's something to be proud about. He commanded the tanker air expeditionary wing operating out of Moron during Odyssey Dawn or what has become, what you know now as Operation Unified Protector, the Libya enforcement of the no-fly zone. I think the UN Resolution was passed on March 17th. We had a couple of tankers airborne and they were [inaudible], they were diverted while they were airborne on their mission to go to Moron and begin standing up that air expeditionary tanker wing. The next day, working with the AMC Air Mobility Command, we began to -- we, the Air National Guard, the active component and the Air Force Reserve -- began to contribute tails and crews to provide in-flight refueling for a lot of the coalition forces that were beginning to muster [inaudible] the no-fly zone over Libya. And in less than a week the formation was complete. Twenty-two aircraft on the ground. Fourteen of those were Air National Guard.
There was no mobilization authority for Libya. It's not a contingency operation. However, we were able to find a way. It's not a combat operation, however you want to define that. I'm not here to tell you whether it was or was not, but I think we all know what went on over there. There were bombs exploding on the ground. There were missiles launched. There was in-flight refueling of combat aircraft. So you can call it whatever you want, but the important thing to realize, there was no mobilization authority available to the President.
So how did he access the Air National Guard in the absence of having any mobilization authority? There is plenty of authority in the law that allows the President to simply ask, and he asked the Department of Defense, not personally. I'm sure he just said hey go do this. But DoD and the United States Air Force said hey, Guard, can you help us out with this refueling mission? So we volunteered. We voluntarily provided the command, the leadership of that wing and over 50 percent of the aircraft used in the refueling flying the airplanes out of Moron, Spain.
So what part of accessibility am I missing here? That's why I say if an individual comes up to you and says well we need to make a particular force structure decision because the Guard is just not accessible, I have to ask the question, can you show me when we have not been accessible?
I define accessibility in three parameters. One is, there must be sufficient authorities to assess the Guard. I just told you that in the absence of a mobilization authority, the President has powers under our laws to mobilize the Guard. There are many many different ways that the Department of Defense can access the Air National Guard and one is by simply asking. We have yet to say no, we won't. We always say yes. Our governors always say yes. And the governors let the Guard go to a federal mission whenever the President asks.
So this notion of not having enough authority to access the Guard, I just don't buy it. That's why I say if someone tells you that they're either ignorant of the law or maybe they have another ulterior motive and they're being disingenuous with you.
The other thing that defines accessibility or availability of the Guard is internal policies inside the Department of Defense. Let me give you an example of how a policy, DoD can change and plan for this, just tell us it's not wrong. It can lead to the perception that the Air Guard is not accessible. I'm talking about Haiti.
One of the things the Guardsmen do on a moment's notice, not 72 hours' notice, maybe 72 seconds or 72 minutes, is respond to domestic operations. Hurricane, tornadoes. We saw Hurricane Irene moving up the coast. We saw the federal government preposition federal troops to assist the governors in taking care of citizens. Do you know how many federal troops we used to take care of the citizens in all of the states, from Florida all the any up through Maine? None. They were all covered by Guardsmen. The governor said hey, we need some help, and the Army Guard and the Air Guard at the behest of the governor's plan, took care of the people in their jurisdictions. And if they didn't have enough in a particular state, a governor would ask another governor, the adjutant general who commands the Army and Air Guard in a particular state would work with another adjutant general and the capability was provided, whether it was lift, whether it was the engineering capability, whether it was medical capability that was needed. We spent some money moving federal troops around, getting them ready to respond in case the governors needed them. The governor didn't need them because we responded instantly.
Haiti was a different situation because it's not in the United States, it's obviously another country. DoD was not the lead agency, not the lead department in that activity. It was Department of State. But within minutes of the earthquake in Haiti, the Puerto Rico Air National Guard was ready to fly some missions and start humanitarian relief. But we were not allowed to do so because there was a policy in place that said we need to give our Guardsmen sufficient notice before we mobilize them and send them to war, so that they can work with their employers. That's probably a good policy because if we had a little bit of notice to work with our civilian employers it makes it a little bit easier to come back to work for our civilian employer after the war, but it also allows our airmen to get ready to deploy and prepare their families. But we don't need any notice to respond to an all-out war. We have 72 hours in our [inaudible] statements. We don't need any notice to respond in a domestic operation. Yet inside the Department of Defense the leaders in the Office of the Secretary of Defense somehow mistakenly thought we needed 30 days' notice before we responded to a domestic operation.
That's not the Guard's fault. We had some policymakers that obviously didn't understand hey, that's what the Guard does, they respond to humanitarian relief efforts. So now we've worked to change that policy so that the folks who call the shots at the Secretary of Defense level are aware that we don't need to give guardsmen 30 days' notice to respond [inaudible]. There are policies that [inaudible] will help increase the accessibility to the Guard.
The other thing you need is money, resources to pay those guardsmen. Remember, 70 percent of Air National Guardsmen do not hold full-time military jobs. They pay their mortgage, they pay the kids' tuition at the local college with money earned from their civilian jobs. You don't pay them unless they work.
I found out something I had forgotten during my six years of active duty. I came on duty February of 2009 after 32 years as a drill status guardsman. I earned my living practicing law, being a judge, doing some other things. But I came on active duty and bang, I get this nice paycheck. It's a three star general paycheck. It's a nice one. And they pay me for 365 days. And I get weekends off sometimes. I get 30 days of leave. And I get every federal holiday off. If you add those up, that's 144 days that most of our airmen are not working because they get weekends off, most of them do; they get federal holidays; and they get 30 days leave. I'm not complaining about the pay. I'm not complaining about the leave. But if we really wanted to save some money why are we paying people for 144 days of work when they're not working? You don't pay traditional guardsmen when they're on a weekend, unless it's a drill weekend. They only get paid when they're working.
Another example, to become a general officer, just like our active duty brothers and sisters, Guard lieutenant colonels have to go to Air War College and take that before they can be promoted to full colonel. Most of our folks, because they can't take that long from their jobs to go to Air War College in residence, either take it by correspondence or take it, like I did, by seminar. Every Tuesday for a year I would drive 65 miles from my home to Oklahoma City, I would attend class four hours, then I would drive back. I missed my daughter's senior year Tuesday evening basketball games in high school, I missed half of the home games because I was going to the war college. Do you know how much travel pay I got for doing that? Zero. Do you know how much per diem I got for doing that? Zero. Do you know how much the Air Force paid me to go to Air War College? Zero. That's what guardsmen do.
If I had gone in residence as our active duty brothers and sisters, you get paid the whole time while you're going to school. That's okay. We need to do that for our active duty brothers and sisters. But think about that mark. Now you've got an individual, [inaudible], you've got an individual who is now qualified, educated, to lead our forces and it didn't cost this country a nickel. That's the kind of bargain I think this country is looking for in these hard times.
So when you hear that the Air Guard is not accessible, it's time to [inaudible] and say I don't think you know what you're talking about, whoever it is. And you hope that they are innocently just ignorant of the facts. But if they're not you need to challenge them. I heard the Secretary say that, I heard General Schwartz say at lunch yesterday that he has entered into a pact with the other service chiefs that contrary to times passed when we get to budget situations like we have now, the services will not attack each other. The services will not try to profit at the expense of the other services. He said that is a pledge that he and the other service chiefs have made to one another, and I applaud that. That is the way to go.
I told my airmen, the Air National Guard will not profit or improve our lot by casting down our active duty brothers and sisters or our Reserve brothers and sisters.
Now facts are facts. We will talk facts. We will talk about cost and some of the things I related to you about Air War College, those are facts. They're not disparaging the other components of our service. But we are in hard budget times and those of us who have been around a while know that unfortunately in the past what has happened is the services go at one another trying to protect their turf. Inside the services the components tend to attack one another. As long as I'm leading the Air National Guard I will have none of it. I will not disparage my brothers and sisters on active duty and I won't do it to the Air Force Reserve. We can tell the facts and let the facts speak for themselves. And when you look at the cost effectiveness of the Air National Guard, when you look at our preparation, when you look at our skill levels, when you look at our experience, when you look at the level of training that we have, when you look at the quality of our leadership, the quality of our airmen, the quality of the best NCO Corps in the world, and you look at the cost and the percentage of combat capability that the Air Guard provides the United States Air Force, 34 percent of the combat capability on 7 percent of the budget, I kind of like that the Air National Guard's position is debated. I think the facts should take care of themselves.
I told my airmen, the Air National Guard is positioned exactly where it needs to be in this critical time and we're trying to provide the most combat capability for the least amount of money. That's what all the services are going to be doing.
We operate 66 of our 89 wings, 66 of those fly off of civilian air fields. DoD doesn't pay to pour a runway. Doesn't pay to fence the field. Most of those locations, the civilian FAA runs the control tower. We can operate 66, in those 66 locations for about the same amount of money that it costs to operate a large United States Air Force base, and we're disbursed -- In 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. There was a point of time in our history when dispersion made sense. Certainly for that ACA mission I was talking about where we're required to stand runway alert and scramble to any incoming threats, or threats that are born inside of the United States. Dispersion is a good thing, tactically, for the offensive mission. But doesn't that offer us some protection, too, when we're talking about [inaudible]? We're not that worried now about nuclear missiles coming into the United States, although it appears that there will come a day here pretty soon when [inaudible] now. But there's probably some guy in a Cessna 172 with a bag of anthrax that if he decided to drop it over one of our major metropolitan areas or an Air Force base could immobilize an entire Air Force base very easily. And there are other threats. We all know what they are.
But one of the concerns that I have about putting all of our eggs in one basket is that we make pretty easy, nice targets for individuals that can now through weapons of mass destruction, things like dirty bombs or anthrax or ricin or whatever it is, immobilize.
What happened this last weekend at Davis Monthan? The base was shut down for most of the day because there was a rumor of someone with an AK-47 on the base. The base was shut down. I don't know if they ever found an AK-47. Maybe the rumor was planted by someone who wanted to disrupt the operation of the base. If that's the case, they were successful.
So there is still some strategy behind dispersion.
Secretary Gates said his main concern and Admiral Mullen has spoken very loudly about this, is the increasing disconnect between the populous of the United States and the military. The concern that through base consolidation actions in the past, BRAC actions, it appeared that the Army, the Air Force were moving out of the northern tier into the warmer southern climates. That a number of bases in states were disappearing. And in fact Secretary Donley yesterday said that one of his [goals] was an Air Force presence in every state -- active, Guard or Reserve. He recognizes the importance of maintaining that connection with the population of this country. Only one percent of us serve in the military. The percentage of individuals with military service serving in the legislature has gone down considerably since World War II. The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs recognizes that threat.
So doesn't it make sense to have an Air National Guard presence in every state? I think it does. That's one of the principles that appears in the flight plan of the Air National Guard, is an Air National Guard presence in every state. That gives the governor the opportunity to access Air National Guard.
When you have three components, we all take an oath. We all take the same oath to support and defend the constitution of the United States. But only Air National Guardsmen take a second oath to support the constitution in their respective state. That's because they're Title 32, they work for the governor at all times until the President says we need you to go fight the federal fight, overseas or wherever.
So now if you have an Air National Guard presence in every state, as we do, in the territories and District of Columbia, whenever that governor needs help with either a terrorist attack perhaps, like happened to me in Oklahoma on April 19, 1995 when the Murray Federal Building was bombed. The Air National Guard was immediately there because the governor with access to Guard formations and airmen, can react immediately.
You get two for the price of one. You get a force that can react at the behest of the governor to handle emergencies inside the state, and you get a force that can deploy overseas. Those ASA/ACA fighters that I told you about on alert, they also happen to rotate in with the AEF. My [ASA/ACA] unit right now from Tulsa, and they're in Afghanistan. They do AEF rotations. You get two for the price of one.
These are some facts that need to be considered as we go forward along with the cost comparisons that I hope our leaders will recognize the cost effectiveness, the high skill level, the fact that we have a force that can, by law, operate at the behest of the governor, which right now the regular Air Force and the Air Force Reserve Command cannot do because it violates posse comitatus laws, but the Guard can.
So when we're talking about making wise decisions on where to place force structure I just hope that those facts are taken into consideration.
The greatest generation saw the wisdom of putting aircraft and capability in the Air National Guard and it has paid dividends ever since the world's greatest generation came home when they created the Air National Guard. We have an opportunity to preserve combat capability of the United States Air Force. [Inaudible] the Guard is a solution.
I look forward to your questions.
Question: [Inaudible] different in ten years, and what are the mission areas that [inaudible]?
Lt. Gen. Wyatt: How will we be different in ten years and what mission areas will we expect?
One of the things that we're I think uniquely postured and ready to do right now is increase our capability in the cyber domain. When you get into understanding what's happening in the cyber world you'll know that some of the best cyber warriors in the country work for the computer giants across this country, the Dells and all the, Hewlett Packards, all the big computer companies. The Air Force has recently stood up or assigned that mission to 24th Air Force and we're training cyber warriors as we speak. And they'll be good because they will get Air Force standardized training.
When those enlisted folks hit their first reenlistment option, what do you think they're going to do, because they are highly trained cyber warriors that can draw a salary three or four times more than we can afford to pay them in the United States Air Force. If I was a high school person right now I would concentrate on cyber and the best way to do that would be to get some training from the United States Air Force, become a cyber warrior. Get a degree, and then go to work for one of those companies that could pay them three or four times what I would make in the United States Air Force. But yet they still have that mentality where they want to do the patriotic thing, they want to serve the country.
That's the Air National Guard. They can come to work for us. We'll give them the opportunity on drill weekends, if at no other time, to take down whatever network it is that's attacking our networks. What a challenge. We have some individuals that do that right now.
There's a fellow out in Washington State that makes a seven digit salary that travels to Fort Meade on drill weekends making $50 a weekend or something. I don't know what he makes. Just for the thrill of practicing his trade in a combat environment. That's what the Air Guard can offer.
You attain those individuals who have trained at the expense of the government and work for the United States Air Force. They want to go make some more money, I don't begrudge anybody that. But those folks need an opportunity and the Air Guard can provide that opportunity, in fact we do already. So I see cyber as a growth area.
Remotely piloted aircraft, intelligence, obviously a growth area.
I think one of the things, one of the changes that we in the Air National Guard and the United States Air Force will have to grapple with is the changing concept of what we call a wing. Usually in the Air National Guard a wing is about a thousand people. It's about 18-24 jets if you're in fighters; 8 to 12 to 16 lifters or tankers at a particular location. It's about 1,000 or 1,100 people that come with the support, maintenance, [inaudible], all the systems that support the mission, finance, personnelists, [inaudible], civil engineering, medical and all those capabilities that reside in a wing. That's the way we used to do business. But I think we're going to have to reexamine that construct as we go forward.
I've asked my adjutants general, especially those that have multiple wings in their state, to think about consolidating some of those [boss] functions at maybe one of their locations. We need to take a look at do we really need five FM shops in the state to service five wings? Or could we consolidate some of that? So we're going to have to take a look at our traditional wing structure and ask ourselves is this the smart way to do business in the future.
Question: Several questions on acquisition, [inaudible]. What's our plan [inaudible]?
Lt. Gen. Wyatt: That's a great question. I'm going to concentrate a little bit on the fighter force here but what I'm saying is applicable to the tanker force. The tanker force is even older than the fighter force. The fighter force is about 25 years old right now in the Air National Guard; the tanker force is approaching 50 years old. A lot of our C-130s were thankfully given to us by Congress back in the mid '70s, so they're 30-plus years old.
The Air National Guard has the same issue with recapitalization of its aircraft and its capabilities that faces the United States Air Force except our problem is a little bit closer to our face because we fly the old stuff. We have at last count nine Block 30 F-16 wings. Our experts tell us that those planes are going to age out here about 2017, 2018. But one of the good news stories in the last year is that the Air Force has committed for some structural enhancements to the Block 30 fleet that will add two to three years of life to those airplanes that will get us out to the 2021 timeframe. But we still have a recapitalization issue with those airplanes. The same as we do with our tankers and our lifters.
So you heard me use the phrase concurrent and balanced. We are an operational force.
Remember what I talked about, our leaders agreeing with the Air Force back in the mid '90s, that we would become an operational force if the Air Force would provide us with modern development aircraft, which the Air Force has done. And they continue to do. They continue to fund the Air National Guard at a funding level that allows us to organize, train, equip and be ready to go to war at the same speed of light that the active component does. But as we go forward, and we bed down the F-35, and we bed down the KC-46A, what we need to do is do it in a balanced fashion across all three of the components, if we want all three of the components to remain operational, and I think it's in our best interest to do that. Not our, ANG, but our, United States Air Force. And we need to do it at the same time we do the extra [component]. Otherwise where you're going to get it is, could get in a situation that we faced with the F-22 where we were going to buy 786 and we ended up buying 189, and they're all on active duty except for the 18 jets that will eventually get to the Hawaii Air National Guard.
So while we provide, Air National Guard provides about a third of the fighter capability of the United States Air Force, that's not true of the F-22. We provide less than ten percent.
So how do you surge that platform for long periods of time, relying upon the Air National Guard as we have with all the other platforms to help our operations tempo out for our active duty component? You can't, because we did not have the foresight to concurrently, proportionally, in a balanced fashion, bed down that platform in the Air National Guard.
We have an opportunity to do concurrent and balanced bed down of the F-35. July, I guess it was a couple of years sago now, the Air Force announced that the bed down locations of the first 190-some-odd F-35s. There was an Air National Guard base in that first operational tranche. Burlington, Vermont. I'm thankful for that. But that's only 18 airplanes out of 190-some-odd airplanes. Concurrent, yes. In the first tranche. Balanced? Not really. Again, less than ten percent.
When you take a look at the cost of flying that vehicle and you see that whatever the experience level is that the pilot in the Air National Guard, whether experienced or inexperienced, are flying [inaudible], I would teach two less sorties a month than [inaudible]. We can do that because we have an older, more mature, more experienced force. Okay last time I heard it was around $20,000 an hour to fly the F-35. I've heard anything from $5,000 to $25,000 or $30,000 but let's pick something that I can apply easy, and that's $20,000. Our Guard pilots get two sorties less a month, that's $40,000 a month less to be trained and ready to go in this airplane than the active component [inaudible]. And the active component needs that because they grow pilots out of pilot training. They need to season their pilots. We get a lot of ours, like I did, already trained when they come to the Air Guard. Already experienced, so we don't need that many sorties. That's $40,000 per pilot per month times 12. That's a half a million dollars for every pilot, savings if that airplane is in the Guard as opposed to the active component.
I'm not talking about -- I'm just talking facts. That's the way the flying hours are structured, that's the cost of flying the airplane, that's one of the benefits of putting that airplane in the Air National Guard.
The same thing can be said of the KC-46. Right now, before we ever fly one on active duty the Air Guard has 67 pilots with over half a million flying hours because they're already flying that airplane. Wouldn't you want to put an airplane into a component that is experience if you're trying to send it to combat? It's going to take us years to grow the KC-46A, train people to do that. Yeah, there are some differences between the KC-46A and the 767, but I'm talking about a cadre here that has already experience [inaudible]. So think about putting that airplane concurrently and [inaudible] in to the Guard.
Then look at the maintainers. Same thing. We've got folks that [inaudible], like me, go down the street, work for American Airlines or whatever airlines is flying the 767 during the week, and then work on the KC-46 after. That's why we're so good at maintaining.
It makes sense to me. It saves money. It provides combat capability. It costs less. What am I missing here? I don't think I'm missing anything. If I am, tell me.
Question: You talked earlier about [inaudible]. [Inaudible]?
Lt. Gen. Wyatt: No. I'm not advocating reducing the active duty end strength. I've been around enough active duty, around enough full-timers since [inaudible] in the Guard. We have a full-time [inaudible] too, recognize the importance of full-time. I'm not advocating that at all. I am advocating looking at the platforms that we have, and instead of doing what we would normally do in times like this, that is get all three components smaller, we'll have to wait and see. But I think I heard yesterday we're going to get smaller. I'm not so sure we need to. I would hope we could have some discussion about whether we need to reduce the size of the United States Air Force. I would really hope that our leaders, both military and civilian, would really think about that before they just decide okay, we're all going to get smaller. Certainly personnel costs are one of the things that continue to drive us up, fuel costs, infrastructure, but we've got to recapitalize our infrastructure too. The bases we built in the '40s and '50s need help [inaudible] what we have. I'm not saying we should.
A lot of our bases were built out in the middle of nowhere in the 1940s and '50s, where you needed to have a commissary, you needed to have a bowling alley, you needed to have an auto repair body shop in order to provide the quality and the lifestyle people deserve. But I live at Bolling Air Force Base. I can get gas five cents a gallon cheaper off base than I can on base. I can get food at the local WalMart, Kmart or whatever, on the same par as I do on base. So I guess I'm kind of questioning in this era of why we need to do that. I'm not advocating a smaller United States Air Force. But I am saying there are ways that we can perhaps meet budget bogeys by considering a shift of force structure one direction or the other.
We're [inaudible] in the Air National Guard that does not fit the Air National Guard drill status guardsman. We're there when you need us. We're in [inaudible] 24 hour a day, 365 jobs out of necessity in this last ten year period of war. Maybe we should transfer to the active component because that's what they get paid to do. You're going to pay someone 365 to do something, give them the mission that requires 365 attention to detail. You might want to move some of that other force structure that you use once, twice, three times, four times in a career, [inaudible]. Just a thought. There are ways to meet that budget bogey without us becoming a smaller Air Force. I think we should [inaudible].