Ladies and gentlemen, I feel as though I have an obligation to defend the National Guard, because in this thread, there have been several occasions, be it through links or outright statements, where the National Guard has been disparaged as a haven for people who don’t want to fight for their country. I would like to attempt to restore, or attempt to create, a positive perception of the National Guard throughout the Doper community. There is evidently a perception that the Guard is composed of “Weekend Worriors”, people who just show up once a month, drink beer, sit around, and do nothing.
Once upon a time, that may have been the case. In my observation, that still happens to a certain extent. However, there are those of us who take their job very seriously.
As we speak, there are Guardsmen patrolling the skies above your head, doing their level best to defend against an unseen and unknown enemy. They have a tough job that requires considerable judgment, and they are doing an excellent job in my estimation.
There are Guardsmen over in Afghanistan providing support roles for our Air Force and Army troops. Civil engineering, base construction, administration, maintenance, virtually any job required is represented.
There is currently an experiment going on at Robins AFB where the Active Duty Air Force and the Air National Guard units are integrating into a unified command, an unprecedented move.
The Guard has 2/3 of the airlift mission, 1/3 of the fighter mission, and the entire continental defense mission.
We can be seen at airports, defending travelers against threats unseen and unheard, but existant.
Most Guardsmen have jobs in the civilian sector, as well as families, and with the current activation that is placing a great strain on them. Yet they still show up for work and do an outstanding job.
Even as I say all of this, however, there is animosity towards the Guard, even from the Active Duty Air Force. They think we don’t do anything at all, that they carry the load. They do not. The entire Air Force carries the load together. We all work towards a common goal, and we all wear the same uniform.
I am Active Duty in a Guard unit, with a special mission that requires considerable training and knowledge. Should I be dismissed from Active Duty, I will appeal to my Commander to keep me on, which will very likely happen. Even if it doesn’t, I will still be expected to come in and fly no less than once a week in order to maintain my proficiency should something happen in the world. My unit, the 193 Special Operations Wing, is always on call and always one of the very first to go when there is a combat action.
The reason why my unit is in the Guard is because we do the job, we do it well, and then in a few months when there are permanent facilities built and online, we go home and wait for the next call. There is not a need for us to remain on station indefinitely, just as the Active Duty forces rotate home periodically.
Our maintenance techs do not have the luxury of having several planes to work with. We cannot cannibalize other planes for parts. Yet we virtually never miss a mission for a maintenance failure. I would respectfully submit that the maintenance technicians I work with are the very best in the Air Force.
I am proud to be a Guardsman. I love my service, I love my country, and I get very frustrated when people say that the Guard doesn’t do anything, that the Active Duty does it all. The force structure of the Air Force being so drawn down, it requires EVERYONE to do their jobs.
The Guard is no longer a place to hide. We all fulfill our obligations without question, even if it requires being sent overseas for extended periods of time. It is full of patriotic people who do a job above and beyond their ordinary jobs, and others who do it for the uniqueness of the job, like myself. I could have gone Active, and I may yet, but I truly love my job right now and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I hope I have made a good enough case to convince you all that the Guard is no longer a “cushy” job, or a place to duck and run as it was during Vietnam.
Any questions for me? Just ask. My only goal here is information, not to get a pat on the back. My satisfaction comes from knowing that I do my job and I do it well, every day I put on the uniform.
Thank you for your attention.
-SrA Dave Cartwright, PA ANG