Changes in the Air National Guard

106th Air Refueling Squadron patch

106th Air Refueling Squadron patch

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. --

I enlisted on Jan 11, 1990, and I can promise you the Air National Guard has changed in the 27 years I’ve been in the 117th Air Refueling Wing.  Change is never easy, especially when the changes look mostly bad.  We’re are now worried about OPR and EPR bullets, our operations tempo is up, the deployment tempo is up.  I won’t attempt to convince you that I’m not concerned about some of the changes we’re seeing in the Air Force and our Air National Guard.  I’m an optimist, so I have to look for the bright side of things.  I also try to be objective, so here it goes.

 When we flew F-4s, my world was great.  I was an egress troop in Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance, I’ve still got the maroon ball cap, and I got to work on ejection sets, bomb racks, and even missiles.  When we traded the F-4s for KC-135s, I thought it was the worst thing to ever happen to me and the unit.  Tankers don’t have ejection seats, so I didn’t even get to keep my full-time job.  As much as I loved that time in the Guard, the only time I ever got to travel, other than to Gulfport, was to go fix a broke F-4 somewhere.  Fast forward to the KC-135 era, and how many of us have gotten to travel all over the world?  I would argue with anyone that the conversion to tankers was a wonderful change for the 117 ARW.  I think even the last two F-4 crew dogs will secretly admit that.  If this were the Guard I signed up for, I’d still be driving a van cross-country to fix a broke F-4.

 The 117th is no longer the sleepy little Guard unit where most of us worked two days a month and two weeks a year.  The entire base deploys all over the world and the intel squadron is no longer a small unit.  They’re now a very large band of analysts and interpreters.  With the increase in mission sets and workload came increases in career opportunities.  We’re now seeing technicians and Guard bums in maintenance, ops and intel retiring with active duty retirements!  Speaking of retirements, those are happening earlier than ever before.  We have traditional Guardsmen retiring and getting their checks before they turn 60.  If this were the Guard I signed up for, we’d still be retiring at age 60 with a couple of thousand retirement points.

 The cost of a college education is ridiculous, and getting more ridiculous every day.  Remember the Montgomery GI Bill?  It was good, but it wasn’t great.  If you were lucky, you were an AGR and could get Tuition Assistance after that.  While those programs were very helpful, they had their limitations.  Fast forward to today and the new GI Bill.  How many of us have used that benefit to attend college or pay for our spouse or children to go to college?  My little boy is 5 years old, and his college is already paid for!  I transferred my GI Bill benefits to him the day he got a social security card.  If this were the Guard I signed up for, we’d be paying a LOT more money to educate our families.

 Like most things, stagnation leads to decay and change allows for growth.  Don’t believe me?  My 1991 5.0 Mustang used to be the fastest thing on the road, but 225 horsepower doesn’t get you very much respect these days.  Like the venerable 5.0 Mustang, we should love and respect the Guard we joined, and we should remember how the Guard used to be so we don’t forget our heritage.  However, we should also learn to become optimists so we can appreciate the great things we have in the Guard today.  It’s true that we sow much more than we used to, but we also reap much more.

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.