Air Guard leaders host 2024 Wing Leader Conference

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  • By Tech. Sgt. Sarah McClanahan,
  • Air National Guard

Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, Air National Guard director, and Chief Master Sgt. Maurice Williams, Air National Guard command chief, hosted ANG senior leaders and commanders from around the nation for the Wing Leader Conference in Henderson, April 24-25.

Wing Leader Conference is an annual event bringing together leaders assigned to each of the 90 wings across 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia to collaborate ideas and provide input on critical matters affecting the future of the ANG amidst an era of Great Power Competition.

“I continue, as all of you need to continue to talk about, the value proposition of your Air National Guard. It isn’t just about costs. It’s everything we bring to the fight. It’s everything we bring to our communities. It’s everything your Airmen do to come together to build a diverse, more experienced, more powerful institution.” Air National Guard Director Lt. Gen. Michael Loh

This year’s conference, themed “A Time of Consequence — Building Forces Ready for Great Power Competition,” emphasized that to maintain ready forces capable of meeting today’s pacing challenges, ANG leaders must implement change to effectively deter conflict and win should deterrence fail.

“We’re gonna win because of the teammates we have and we’re gonna win because of the professionals that exist in all the ranks and I don’t lose a bit of sleep over that,” said Gen. Mike Minihan, commander of Air Mobility Command. “There’s no Air Mobility Command without the Air National Guard. That will always be and I’m grateful for that partnership.”

The conference allowed senior leaders to evaluate readiness through the lens of GPC and how to better support and serve the National Guard’s 108,300 Airmen.

“Based on the threats we have today, we have no other choice we must change,” Williams explained. “We are charting a path that requires a change that we need. But the key will be will we be committed to those changes.”

While conference topics included implementing major changes centered on developing people, generating readiness, projecting power, and developing integrated capabilities, conversations boiled down to one thing — the need to move forward with a sense of urgency to ensure the force is ready for GPC.

“The threat is real, and the time is now we are at a reckoning point to ensure that we either maintain or re-establish ourselves as the best air force in the world,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Piper, National Guard Bureau senior leader management director. “You want the personification of ‘adapt or die territory.’ This is it.”

Piper explained that the change required to confront this strategic environment will require ruthless prioritization and hard decisions.

“Many different things can put doubt in our minds,” Williams said. “That doubt can be a lack of resources, lack of people, or lack of time, but only the strong will make a decision regardless of the obstacles and challenges. This is the mindset we need to have for what’s ahead because there are Airmen waiting to follow your direction behind you.”

In addition to the ANG’s senior leaders from across the nation, the event invited their spouses to provide feedback on the issues ANG families face and how they can help Airmen re-optimize for GPC.

“Spouses contribute significantly to our ability to maintain a joint force that is resilient, sustainable, agile and responsive,” said Brig. Gen. Troy Havener, Nevada National Guard assistant adjutant general - air, during a discussion on the role spouses will play in GPC. “That’s essential if we’re to exceed in competition so that we don’t have to go into crisis or conflict.”

Loh added that military spouses play a key role in maintaining force readiness because they understand the most how to take care of their service members. Their invaluable input is essential in ensuring the ANG remains ready today and stronger tomorrow.

“I want to thank you all, especially the spouses, for traveling out here,” said Dianne Loh. “I can’t thank you enough from the bottom of our hearts for everything you’re doing to support our Air National Guard. So, as we’re in that sunset, we know you guys are the sunrise. So please, please continue all your hard work and your success and thank you for doing what you guys do and making the Air Guard the best out there.”

As Lt. Gen. Loh approaches the end of his tenure as director, he expressed his gratitude to those who empower the ANG.

“As I get off the stage as your thirteenth ANG director, I want to say thank you,” Loh said. “It’s been a privilege of a lifetime, but it is all about the families allowing us to do that.”

Lt. Gen. Loh said the ANG will maintain the speed and agility required to meet the challenges of this era by achieving a more competitive posture focused on generating readiness, projecting power, and developing people and integrated capabilities.

“When we’re in sync, we’re very, very powerful,” Loh said. “It goes back to the value proposition. So, continue to engage and let’s continue to work together to make a stronger Air Force and a much stronger Air National Guard.”