BIRMINGHAM, Ala. --
When you open the homepage of the Air National Guard’s recruiting website at goang.com, you will find the following post immediately grabbing your attention:
“The sky is no limit. The Air Guard is a unique military branch that offers opportunities you won't find in any other organization on the planet. Everyone has their own reason for joining - the training, the flexibility, the extra paycheck. But it's the sense of purpose, and the pride of serving your community and country, that will make you want to stay. Discover ANG, an experience that’s far above ordinary.”
The above statement is a perfect overall summation of serving in the Air National Guard today. Hopefully it will continue to work as a hook for the recruitment of fine Airmen into the 117th. I would like to share why I full heartedly believe this banner is accurate and the “far above ordinary” statement to be a spot on declaration in the hearts of the 117th warrior spirited Airmen.
Airmen join our ranks with the lure of serving and training in a highly technical reserve branch of the Armed Forces. The commitment is laid out as one weekend a month along with about two weeks of training every year. The reality of time and sacrifices spent in the service of the ANG is where the “far above ordinary” starts to kick in. Very few of our Airmen are limited to just drills and training duty today. Today’s operation tempo is astounding and overwhelming to say the least. Air Force weapon systems are taxed beyond “ordinary” and that has a direct correlation to our Airmen’s utilization. Just as the USAF divvies weapons systems throughout the total force, in return, the ANG Airman provide readiness, training and longevity at a fraction of the cost to the Department of Defense for true military value. Our Airmen must sacrifice with constant rotations for deployments and use their home station down time with things like career upgrade training, exercising operational capabilities and the never ending cycle of ancillary training. And don’t forget about the everyday standards that our Airmen are required to uphold.
Our Airmen are no longer just weekend warriors. Our training and readiness are not just sitting on the shelf to backfill as needed. This is the 21st Century Air National Guard. Our Airmen are truly engaged daily with mission requirements. Some of these include warfighting, deployments, homeland defense & operations, along with commitments and training in joint global partnerships. These things keep us busy way beyond “ordinary.”
I recently did a sample inquiry with some Airmen of the 117th and posed two questions: What retains you in the Air National Guard and particularly the 117th Air Refueling Wing? How do you and your family cope with the overwhelming sacrifice of serving in the ANG today? The most common denominator in a vast array of answers was the fact that individuals felt valued by utilization. Even though it is taxing to their family, careers and personal life, it is a big deal that our Airmen feel valued.
While I have concern that our Airmen are most definitely strained with the tough balance and sacrifice of family, civilian life and military service, the truth is, they endure, sustain to discover satisfaction, fulfilment and contentment. Our Airmen possess a warrior spirit centered around value.
I find that to be... “FAR ABOVE ORDINARY”