April Commander's View
By Col. Paul Hargrove, 146th Airlift Wing
/ Published April 02, 2011
Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, Calif. -- It has been too long since my last commander's view, so let me attempt to catch everyone up. First, let me first say thank you to everyone for their continued participation with Channel Islands ANG. I don't think I could say this enough.
Second, I want to share with you some of the issues I've been working:
Every six months I attend the C-130 Weapons System Council in Washington DC. This council is made up of Air National Guard wing commanders that oversee squadrons with C-130 aircraft. They meet to deal with issues of national, state, and unit concerns and many issues were addressed at the last meeting in March. One of the major issues was the AEF schedule for operations and maintenance. It is a major problem that has been discussed with NGB and the active duty Air Force. The issue is that the schedule has been changed several times in the past year, for a couple of reasons. The C-130H wings have several programs impacting the availability of aircraft. Long delays in Programmed Depot Maintenance, upgrades called Avionics Modernization Program and Large Aircraft Countermeasures caused a shortage in C-130H model aircraft available for deployment that subsequently caused a change in the AEF schedule. Rhode Island and Channel Islands are C-130J wings and are therefore not impacted by the delays and aircraft availability that the C-130H wings are experiencing. We were, however, impacted by the new schedule that was put together by the National Guard Bureau. The new schedule was implemented, and worked for about six months until an error in the calculation of dwell time made it unworkable. This prompted a new schedule to be put together which altered our deployments, causing them to be moved about two months to the right. It also extended the length of deployment rotations. At this point, every C-130 guard wing commander is saying that we can't do longer rotations in our aviation packages, but we are being told the military needs our aircraft more the ever.
In the meantime, another issue was coming to light in the National Guard. A possible misappropriation of funds occurred in bonuses given for recruitment and retention in the Army and Air National Guard. The alleged misappropriation was hundreds of millions of dollars and California was apparently involved. The 146th AW has been audited and I'm happy to say we were found to have no problems. There are ongoing investigations in the California National Guard in reference to fiscal improprieties. The investigations need to be completed before any conclusions can be reached. I would say to let the process run its course before anyone judges the implicated personnel. I'm disappointed that this is distracting from the incredible work done on a daily basis by our National Guard personnel.
The next issue I will address today is the Enlisted Grade Review. This is a reworking of the unit manning documents for all guard wings by the National Guard Bureau. This is causing some military positions to be promoted in rank, while others will be reduced in rank. It has been very controversial and I'm aware of certain positions that are being reduced. This has been in the works for several years and there is a meeting at NGB in August to finalize the ranks. Concerns have been addressed through the functional managers at the National Guard Bureau and this avenue of change seems to be exhausted at this time. We plan to work through the Weapons System Council to correct any changes to the C-130 UMDs. I can't guarantee any changes can be made, but I do believe this is the best course of action to take. Additionally, any reductions in rank will not be required to occur until approximately 2014.
The last issue I will address in this edition is the Fitness Assessment. There have been Air Force wide changes to the test which have made it more difficult for many members. I have had numerous complaints of some 146th AW units taking this test seriously while other units not so much. I have been visited by the State Inspector General in reference to complaints of improper implementation of the test. This has left me no choice but to take control of the testing and scheduling of the FA test. This will hopefully ensure overall fairness and integrity of the test. I know this will not be popular among several personnel, but I can't turn a blind eye to this situation. The physical fitness of military personnel has become a priority among the active duty Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and the National Guard. I have been briefing for over a year that this will not change anytime soon. The details of the wing policy will be available during this April UTA. I will also tell you that I will work with personnel who have difficulties passing the test. I ask personnel that there be an effort to progress if there is a failure. I also realize there will be numerous failures once everyone is tested and we will work on improving those failures.
I again want to thank you for your service to our country, state, and community. Please stay positive and continue the excellent work you provide for our military.