By Jenny Swigoda
ROA, Content Manager
As the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force (NCSAF) continues to examine the future of the Air National Guard (ANG) and the Air Force Reserve (AFR), ROA was asked to testify for the second time before the commission.
Major General Andrew B. Davis, USMC (Ret.) testified on behalf of ROA during a hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 20, alongside Major General James N. Stewart, military executive, Reserve Forces Policy Board. In his statement, MajGen Davis outlined the affects of a combined ANG and AFR.
“The reopening of the debate focuses on a 2011 proposal authored by 5 retired Reserve Component generals to merge to ANG and the AFR into a single Reserve Component to streamline force structure and save costs…The paper has several flaws, the worst of which is that it relies heavily on a 1997 analysis of a similar proposal to combine Army Reserve Component forces as evidence of potential cost savings,” said MajGen Davis.
This 16-year-old study about Army force structure is irrelevant to a modern discussion of AF organization, MajGen Davis added. What is relevant is the parallels to the Fiscal Year 1974 National Defense Authorization Act, in which then-Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger rejected a similar proposal of merging the Reserve and ANG saying, “the small savings realized by combining the administrative headquarters could be offset by losses in combat readiness caused by a total reorganization of the Air Reserve component structure.”
MajGen Davis went out to outline the complexities that could lead to losses in combat readiness while pointing out the vast differences between the ANG and AFR. He pointed to the fact that the basing models differ as Guard forces are state based and generally cannot be moved across state lines while Reserve forces are federal forces that are based in federal facilities. Other differences that could complicate the proposed merger include: untold consequences on careers and unit viability; differences in management structure; command and control structural differences; differences in recruiting and force structure and the limitations of the president’s accessibility if the forces are combined.
The proposed merger would require major changes to the personnel systems and it could also have a large impact on retention. MajGen Davis concluded his testimony by pointing out that the white paper misses a larger issue, that the separate forces of the Reserve and Guard are complimentary, not competitive or duplicative.
“While a ‘new normal’ on the Reserve Component’s operational use seems to have blurred the differences between the ANG and the AFR, there are distinct differences between the (two) that need to be maintained…After twelve years of war and 2 decades of sustained operations, the units of both the Reserve and the Guard have become operational and operate at a high op-tempo relative to the old strategic reserve.”
As the commission continues to explore the future for the ANG and AFR, ROA will continue to provide a unique voice for Reservists in these hearings.