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Shaping the total force: Guardsmen in the theater

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cynthia A. Innocenti
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar—During a visit here, Jan. 4, Air National Guard Director Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice delivered a message of continued resiliency as he expressed his gratitude to members serving in the ANG and encouraged them on the rest of their deployment in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.


Guardsmen are employed alongside their active-duty and Reserve counterparts in every part of theater operations and in almost every Air Force specialty.


Within CENTCOM, 2,500 guardsmen make up about 20 percent of Airmen in the theater, while 30 percent of the aircraft being operated belong to the ANG.


“When we fight, we fight together,” said Rice.


Over this past year, the contributions of guardsmen to that fight have been many and varied.


An ANG C-130 Hercules crew and aircraft with the 737th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron were the first to land at Qayyarah West Airfield at the outset of the Mosul offensive in Iraq. Vermont guardsmen with the 134th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron deployed with less than a month’s notice and delivered combat airpower within 15 hours of arrival. The ANG makes up roughly half of Al Udeid’s 340th Air Refueling Squadron in both personnel and aircraft, while the 577th Expeditionary Prime BEEF Squadron of the 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineer Group has a large ANG presence and is responsible for construction projects in eight countries.


In addition to operational success, the contributions of guardsmen can be seen at the unit level.   


Rice expressed that ANG Airmen have a responsibility to the mission and to their fellow wingmen to unify their efforts.


“A lot of times active-duty Airmen are highly trained, but also younger and less experienced,” said Senior Master Sgt. David Sudweeks, a safety technician with the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing. “This is where the ANG is highly beneficial to the total force structure.”


As they contribute to the total force, members of the ANG also maintain balance between two missions: excelling as an Airman and succeeding in the civilian job force.


Staff Sgt. Charee Worthley, an executive admin technician with the 379th AEW, explained that a large portion of ANG members have civilian jobs that match up with their duties in the Air Force, enabling them to bring a new perspective in accomplishing the mission here.


 “The ANG has a huge footprint at Al Udeid; half of my office are guardsmen,” said Worthley. “The knowledge and experience guardsmen gain while deployed is tremendous, but what they bring with them is equally as extraordinary.”


One guardsman who brought new perspective to his field and created a lasting contribution in the theater is Tech. Sgt. Daniel Wisniewski, a financial analysis technician with the 379th Expeditionary Comptroller Squadron. By building a new database, Wisniewski was able to increase the speed and accuracy of tracking the 379th AEW’s budget, while decreasing the number of man hours required to maintain it.


“This allows us to provide accurate reports to resource advisors and commanders with the click of a button,” said Wisniewski. “It is a humbling thing knowing I was able to come out as an ANG member and make a contribution that will better the way my career field does business across the AOR.”


“The greatest strength we have is the people we bring to the fight,” said Rice. “ANG Airmen bring immensely diverse and innovative skills”


Rice closed an all call with reserve component and active-duty members here by saying, “Move forward into the new year being even more innovative than before; never lose sight of your responsibility of service to each other.”