/ Published May 11, 2020
Across our nation, America's citizen Airmen are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Jersey Air National Guard Airmen stand for portraits during the buildup of a Field Medical Station at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, N.J., April 9, 2020. (U.S. Air National Guard photo illustration by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)
Lieutenant General L. Scott Rice, director, Air National Guard, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. Rice is responsible for formulating, developing and coordinating all policies, plans and programs affecting more than 105,500 Guard members and civilians in more than 90 wings and 175 geographically separated units across 213 locations throughout the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands. (U.S. Air Force photo/Bennie J. Davis III)
Lieutenant General L. Scott Rice is the Director, Air National Guard, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. He is responsible for formulating, developing and coordinating all policies, plans and programs affecting more than 105,500 Guard members and civilians in more than 90 wings and 175 geographically separated units across 213 locations throughout the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands.
A New Jersey Air National Guard Airman stands for a portrait during the buildup of a Field Medical Station at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, N.J., April 9, 2020. Atlantic City is one of three stations that will offer overflow from local hospitals focused on COVID-19 patients. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)
New Jersey Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Samantha Massey stands for a portrait during the buildup of a Field Medical Station at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, N.J., April 9, 2020. Atlantic City is one of three stations that will offer overflow from local hospitals focused on COVID-19 patients. Massey is with the 177th Fighter Wing’s Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)
Airmen with the 125th Air Expeditionary Squadron dawn their personal protective equipment to prepare for their mobile testing team mission in central Florida. (U.S. Army Photo by Pvt. 1st Class Orion Oettel)
New Jersey Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Dave Pang stands for a portrait during the buildup of a Field Medical Station at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, N.J., April 9, 2020. Atlantic City is one of three stations that will offer overflow from local hospitals focused on COVID-19 patients. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)
New Jersey Army National Guard Maj. Rory E. Tippit, center, a physician's assistant with the 21st Civil Support Team, demonstrates procedures at a COVID-19 Community-Based Testing Site at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J., March 23, 2020. The testing site, established in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is staffed by the New Jersey Department of Health, the New Jersey State Police, and the New Jersey National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)
New Jersey National Guard Soldiers and Airmen go over the wear of protective equipment at a COVID-19 Community-Based Testing Site at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J., March 23, 2020. The testing site, established in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is staffed by the New Jersey Department of Health, the New Jersey State Police, and the New Jersey National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)
Citizen Airmen, Soldiers and medical staff from Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children, Christiana Care, and St. Francis Healthcare provide basic medical care during a training exercise at an alternate care site at A.I. DuPont Hospital, Wilmington, Del., April 7, 2020. The alternate care site at A.I. DuPont Hospital marked the first alternative acute care site in Delaware as part of the nationwide federal and state efforts in preparation for the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Katherine Miller)
1Members of the West Virginia National Guard�s Task Force Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Response Enterprise (CRE) (TF-CRE) and Task Force Sustainment (TF-Sustainment), assist staff of St. Francis Hospital, Charleston, West Virginia, to unload beds and additional medical equipment delivered to the hospital in an effort to build statewide medical surge capacity during on-going COVID-19 pandemic response, April 9, 2020. The equipment, resourced from Fairmont, West Virginia, was delivered by members of the West Virginia State Police, West Virginia Division of Highways, and West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, as part of a whole of government partnership uniting local, state and federal agencies in coordinated response efforts. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Edwin L. Wriston)
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eddie Rosario with the 156th Security Forces Squadron checks identification at the gate entrance to Muñiz Air National Guard Base, Puerto Rico Air National Guard, while wearing personal protective equipment, April 9, 2020. The 156th SFS Defenders now have plastic face shields, created by 1st Lt. Jose Arroyo, a cyberspace operations officer with the 156th Communications Flight, to help protect them as they continue their mission while the base is operating under HPCON Delta, in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. (U.S. Air National Guard courtesy photo)
Airmen from the 143d Airlift Wing's Maintenance Squadron, Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Medical Group, and 282nd Combat Communications Group work with civilian volunteers and the Department of Health to answer questions from the Rhode Island community about coronavirus. Members of the Rhode Island National Guard have been working along side federal and state partners to assist in mitigating the spread of coronavirus. Air National Guard photo by Senoir Master Sgt. Janeen M. Miller
A Connecticut National Guard Airman helps load boxes of PPE into a vehicle at a distribution site in West Hartford, Connecticut, April 22, 2020. The Connecticut National Guard is supporting the Connecticut Department of Public Health in distributing items including masks, gloves, and face shields to assisted living facilities, residential care homes, long-term care facilities, and first responders. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Steven Tucker)
Airman 1st Class Arielle Robles, 103rd Maintenance Group administration specialist, helps set up recovery center beds at Kaiser Hall at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut, April 21, 2020. Robles is an exercise science student at the university and is now helping convert her usual classroom building into surge capacity space for local hospitals in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Steven Tucker)
Airman 1st Class Arielle Robles, 103rd Maintenance Group administration specialist, helps construct a bed frame at Stamford Hospital in Stamford, Connecticut, April 8, 2020. Connecticut National Guard Soldiers and Airmen set up 200 beds at the hospital to build capacity and constructed Alaskan Small Shelter System tents for a separate triage area in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Steven Tucker)
161st Air Refueling Wing service members unload material from a KC-135 Stratotanker to be used to make protective gowns for statewide use April 9, 2020 at Goldwater Air National Guard Base, Phoenix. The delivery is part of the Arizona National Guard’s response to community needs during this state of emergency (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Matkin).
An Aircrew Flight Equipment specialist from the Duluth-based 148th Fighter Wing, Minnesota Air National Guard sews protective masks for mission essential military personnel. Airmen from various work groups from the wing are cutting fabric, laundering masks and disseminating the completed masks. Airmen are utilizing innovative ways to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Members of the New York Air National Guard's 107th Attack Wing Fatality Search and Recovery Team listen to a morning briefing outside Bellevue Hospital in New York City, April 4, 2020. The Airmen are supporting the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City as part of the New York State response to the COVID 19 pandemic. They are trained the dignified recovery of human remains. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Sean Madden)
Florida Guard doctors, nurses and medics joined Florida International University (FIU) at the Miami Beach Convention Center (MCC) to conduct refresher training in preparation to staff the MBCC in the event the space is needed for the COVID-19 response. Federal, state and local partnerships are coming together to combat the COVID-19 virus.
Louisiana National Guard Soldiers and Airmen test first responders for COVID-19 infections at Louis Armstrong Park, New Orleans, Louisiana, March 20, 2020. The testing site is one of three across New Orleans and Jefferson Parishes and will soon open to the general public. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Josiah Pugh)
Airman 1st Class Grace Tesch, 141st Medical Group, packs food boxes at the Food Lifeline Covid Response warehouse April 23, 2020 in Seattle, Wash. More than 250 Air and Army National Guardsmen are assigned to the warehouse where they are able to prepare, on average, 268 boxes an hour. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Tim Chacon)
U.S. Air Force Col. Yvonne Mays, left, director of staff, New Jersey Air National Guard, speaks with Maj. Justin Krowicki, with the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 177th Fighter Wing, at the Federal Medical Station inside the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J., April 24, 2020. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)
U.S. Air Force Airmen with the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 177th Fighter Wing screen Soldiers entering the Federal Medical Station at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, N.J., April 18, 2020. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman William Lopez, with the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 177th Fighter Wing, stands for a portrait at a Federal Medical Station set up at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, N.J., April 15, 2020. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)
New Jersey Air National Guard Airmen put together wheelchairs during the buildup of a Field Medical Station at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, N.J., April 9, 2020. Atlantic City is one of three stations that will offer overflow from local hospitals focused on COVID-19 patients. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)
New Jersey Air National Guard Airmen set up equipment during the buildup of a Field Medical Station at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, N.J., April 9, 2020. Atlantic City is one of three stations that will offer overflow from local hospitals focused on COVID-19 patients. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)
A New Jersey Air National Guard Airman carries supplies during the buildup of a Field Medical Station at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, N.J., April 9, 2020. Atlantic City is one of three stations that will offer overflow from local hospitals focused on COVID-19 patients. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)
Medical staff collect samples from a patient at a COVID-19 Community-Based Testing Site at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J., March 23, 2020. The testing site, established in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is staffed by the New Jersey Department of Health, the New Jersey State Police, and the New Jersey National Guard. This image has been altered to protect personal information. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)
Airmen with the 125th Air Expeditionary Squadron work with nurses at an assisted living facility as the staff tests residents for their mobile testing team mission in central Florida. (U.S. Army Photo by Pvt. 1st Class Orion Oettel)
Airmen from the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard in Oxnard, CA, deliver 200 ventilators to members of the 105th AW, April 7, 2020, at Stewart Air National Guard Base, Newburgh, NY. The use of the C-130J Super Hercules, along with the NY Army National Guard, facilitated the shipment of medical equipment, which will support the ongoing COVID-19 medical treatments being conducted in the New York and New Jersey areas (U.S. Air Force Photo by SrA Jonathan Lane/Released).
New York Air National Guard Chaplain (Lt. Col. ) Jacob Marvel conduct Easter Mass for service members at the Javits Convention Center in New York City while following social distancing guidelines on April 12, 2020. The New York National Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Active Army have stood up the Javits New York Medical Station at the convention center to treat COVID-19 patients. ( U.S. Air National Guard photo by Major Patrick Cordova)
More than 30 members of the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron set up hospital beds and clinical space at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., April 13, 2020. The site, which is expected to be operational April 15, will serve as an Alternate Care Facility for patients suffering from COVID-19 if area hospitals exceed available capacity. The location initially can treat up to 288 patients and is scalable to 2,000 beds. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Dale Greer)
Lt. Col. Patricia Adams, an optometrist in the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Medical Group, has earned the 2019 General John Hunt Morgan Award from the National Guard Association of Kentucky. The award recognizes Adams’ outstanding service as a clinical site leader during an Innovative Readiness Training exercise in Eastern Kentucky in 2018, during which military personnel provided no-cost medical care to thousands of underserved residents, performing more than 11,000 procedures and delivering 1,400 prescription eyeglasses with a market value of more than $1 million. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Patricia Adams (left), an optometrist from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, discusses patient care with U.S. Air Force Maj. Tiffany Hubbard, a nurse practitioner, at a health-care clinic being run by the Air Guard and U.S. Navy Reserve at Lee County High School in Beattyville, Ky., June 20, 2018. The Beattyville clinic is one of four that comprised Operation Bobcat, a 10-day mission to provide military medical troops with crucial training in field operations and logistics while offering no-cost health care to the residents of Eastern Kentucky. The clinics, which operated from June 15-24, offered non-emergent medical care; sports physicals; dental cleanings, fillings and extractions; eye exams and no-cost prescription eye glasses. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)
Security Forces Airmen from the 104th Fighter Wing, Barnes Air National Guard Base, Mass., and Soldiers with the 747th Military Police Company, Massachusetts Army National Guard, are providing 24-hour security for testing sites and shelters for the homeless who may be positive COVID-19. The Airmen and Soldiers are working with interagency partners Springfield Police Department to ensure security and safety for the supplies, patients, and staff. Massachusetts National Guard units were activated at the request of Governor Charlie Baker and are helping at the testing facilities as a joint-task force. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey)
Airmen and Soldiers of the Massachusetts National Guard take a photo they respond together to help their communities during the COVID-19 response. Security Forces Airmen from the 104th Fighter Wing, Barnes Air National Guard Base, Mass., and Soldiers with the 747th Military Police Company, Massachusetts Army National Guard, are providing 24-hour security for testing sites and shelters for the homeless who may be positive COVID-19. The Airmen and Soldiers are working with interagency partners Springfield Police Department to ensure security and safety for the supplies, patients, and staff. Massachusetts National Guard units were activated at the request of Governor Charlie Baker and are helping at the testing facilities as a joint-task force. (Left to Right: Private 1st Class Donovan Sawyer, Tech. Sgt. Shomeret Chevalier and Spc. Haley MacDonald) (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey)
Members of the 104th Fighter Wing Medical Group and Public Health office prepare Easter treats for their wingmen, aerospace medical technicians serving at COVID-19 testing sites and helping backfill staff at facilities throughout Massachusetts. The home station team will deliver the treats for Airmen at their staging area to find as a surprise on Easter. Pictured from left to right: SMSgt Karla Belliveau, Maj. Barbara Jones, Lt. Col. Stephen Burgess, Master Sgt. Christine Lupacchino and Master Sgt. Kylie Burns-Whalen. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey)
BARRIGADA, Guam (April 20, 2020) – Staff Sgt. Jude Santos, 254th REDHORSE Squadron, Guam Air National Guard, cuts plywood for an environmental control unit installation at the Skilled Nursing Facility in Barrigada April 20. The Guam National Guard continues to work with federal and local agencies during the island’s fight against COVID-19. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by JoAnna Delfin)
Members of the Illinois Air National Guard assemble medical equipment at the McCormick Place Convention Center in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Chicago, Ill., April 8, 2020. Approximately 60 members of the Illinois Air National Guard were activated to support the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to temporarily convert part of the McCormick Place Convention Center into an Alternate Care Facility (ACF) for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms who do not require intensive care in the Chicago area. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Jay Grabiec)
U.S. Air National Guard Lt. Col. Adam Goldstone from the 146th Airlift Wing’s Medical Group (146 MDG), unloads donated food from the back of a Foodbank Santa Barbara delivery truck at the West Boy’s and Girls Club located in Santa Barbara, California. March 27, 2020. Goldstone and California Air National Guardsmen from the 146 MDG assisted Foodbank Santa Barbara delivering food to multiple distribution centers across the city of Santa Barbara to provide food for families and those needing help gathering essential food and goods due to COVID-19. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Michelle Ulber)
Colorado National Guard members conduct COVID-19 testing at a drive up testing site in Greeley, Colorado, April 23, 2020. Nearly 70 Colorado National Guard members from the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yiald (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) tested residents in the Greeley area. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. John Rohrer)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Konnor Ewing, a 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard aircraft structural maintenance mechanic, and Airman 1st Class John Boyle, 233rd Space Group security forces specialists in Greeley Colo., deliver meals to guests at a hotel in Denver, April 16, 2020. Members of the Colorado National Guard have been brought on to serve in one of a multitude of task forces including helping those who otherwise would not have a place to stay during COVID 19. Troops are deployed around the state in various capacities to support state and local officials combat the Corona Virus Pandemic. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. John Rohrer)
U.S. Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Van Note, an aircrew flight equipment specialist, is creating some of the 500 masks that have been requested by the commander of the 140th Wing, in order to decrease the chances of the COVID-19 spread while guard members have to be in close proximity of one another due to job constraints while performing vital mission operations at Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colo., April 10, 2020. Members of the Colorado National Guard volunteer to support state and local officials combat the Corona Virus Pandemic by assisting multiple agencies in the state of Colorado. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. John Rohrer)
U.S. Air National Guard Airman 1st Class Ryan Terry, 233rd Space Warning Squadron security forces, assigned to Task Force Shelter Support for the Colorado National Guard’s COVID-19 response, along with volunteer nurse Rebekah Maciorowski, performs a wellness check to a resident at a motel where people without homes are lodged, Denver, Colo., April 10, 2020. Members of the Colorado National Guard volunteer to support state and local officials combat the Corona Virus Pandemic by assisting multiple agencies in the state of Colorado. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. John Rohrer)
Airmen and soldiers from the Vermont National Guard work to construct a 400-bed medical surge facility at the Champlain Valley Exposition, Essex Junction, Vermont, April 04, 2020. The Vermont National Guard is working with the state of Vermont and emergency response partners in a whole-of-government effort to flatten the curve during the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Miss Julie M. Shea)
He has served in various operational and staff assignments including Commander, Air Force Forces, Exercise Eastern Falcon in United States Central Command. Rice has commanded a squadron, operations group, and fighter wing. He also served as the Assistant Adjutant General for Air, and Commander, Massachusetts Air National Guard.
During an interview with Airman Magazine, Lt Gen Rice discussed the health and state of the Air National Guard, the development of 21st Century Guard Airmen and challenges faced by the Air National Guard.
Airman Magazine: As of April, more than 44,500 Air and Army National Guard professionals are supporting the COVID-19 crisis response at the direction of their governors. How many ANG personnel are currently aiding the pandemic response?
Lt. Gen. Rice: Currently the Air National Guard has over 7,000 Airmen aiding in the COVID-19 response, of which 80% are currently in a federalized (T32, 502f) status under presidential approval. Our Guardsmen are on the front lines of this COVID-19 pandemic response, fighting against an invisible and dangerous enemy.
Lt. Gen. Rice: Our Airmen are supporting the response in a wide array of mission sets. They include, but are not limited to, supporting warehouse operations and logistical efforts to deliver and distribute life-saving medical equipment; performing mobile testing and sample deliveries; providing mortuary affairs assistance with the utmost respect and dignity; building and outfitting alternate care facilities to alleviate stress on medical infrastructure; delivering and distributing food in hard-hit communities and supporting food banks; providing on-call medical transport. Medical teams are also augmenting local hospitals. In addition to medical and logistical support, our chaplains and mental health professionals are also serving in roles that support mental health and spiritual needs during this trying time.
Another example is 1st Lt. Jose Arroyo of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard, who used his experience operating a nonprofit organization to begin building face shields and other personal protective equipment for fellow Airmen at the 156th Wing. Arroyo found the plans for the face shields by leveraging contacts made through his civilian employment. For more than a month, Arroyo has been waking up every hour, on the hour, to reset his 3D printer, ensuring he can make as many face shields as possible. These are just two examples of the dedication, the creativity, and the ingenuity of our Citizen Airmen who are leading the fight against COVID-19.
Lt. Gen. Rice: The majority of our Airmen supporting this crisis have volunteered to serve. Extending the mobilization to 31 days ensures our Airmen receive housing allowances commensurate with their locality. Additionally, extending their orders to 31 days ensures our men and women receive appropriate healthcare during their time of service.
Asking our Guard Airmen to serve on orders for 30 days or less results in reduced benefits to our men and women with regard to housing allowances and healthcare coverage while serving in a federalized status. During a national pandemic, such disadvantages only add to the stresses incurred by Guard families while loved ones serve and may potentially have adverse effects on personnel readiness should our members not be able to receive necessary healthcare.
Extending and authorizing orders to 31 days is the right thing to do for our Airmen and their families. I am very pleased that this executive order was signed.
Lt. Gen. Rice: Our Airmen will not be asked to do a job if we have not made accommodation for them to have the required PPE. Each state is handling the sourcing of PPE differently.
Airman Magazine: What specialized career fields are most in demand? Other than medical, what other missions are ANG forces being asked to do? Does that vary from state to state? Examples: How is what they are doing in Chicago different than what they are doing in New York City and why?
Lt. Gen. Rice: All of our Guardsmen are in demand. We have some of the best medical professionals in the world serving in our Air National Guard. Many of their talents are being put to use fighting COVID-19.
The demand has grown based on the needs within each state, some of whom require unique skill sets. For example, Our Fatality Search and Recovery Teams have conducted numerous recovery missions within hard hit communities of Massachusetts, New York, and Washington D.C. While other states such as Arizona, California, Hawaii and Illinois employed their assigned aircraft and air crews to deliver desperately needed ventilators, medical supplies and equipment, or material needed to manufacture personal protective equipment.
Lt. Gen. Rice: Every Guard Airmen who answers the call to serve is honoring their commitment to our nation. In doing so, they demonstrate their willingness to potentially risk their own health in order to aid their communities in need of support and resources the National Guard team is able to provide. It amazes me how our Airmen continuously step up and provide much needed support when our country needs it the most. This is a historic pandemic, which requires a historic response — we are built for this. Our combined military training and civilian expertise enable us to perform a wide array of missions when called upon by our governors. We are neighbors helping neighbors.
Lt. Gen. Rice: It is critical that our Airmen hear from their leaders, more so in these trying times. Our leaders have been innovative with how they communicate with their Airmen. We have evolved from the traditional sense of seeing our Airmen and communicating with them face-to-face, to now conducting remote regularly scheduled drill periods, video/audio chats, and utilizing different social media platforms to reach all of our Airmen. Our leaders work hard to ensure our Airmen are informed of the latest guidance to ensure appropriate mitigation procedures are followed as well as appropriately trained and equipped for their assigned missions
Airman Magazine: What would you like to say directly to the ANG Airmen on the front lines and to those Airmen awaiting the call to be mobilized?
Lt. Gen. Rice: Chief (Master Sergeant Ronald C.) Anderson and I cannot fully express how proud we are of our Air National Guard Airmen. You amaze us every day with what you accomplish. As Guard Airmen, you are “Always Ready – Always There.” Thank you for what each and every one of you have done for your communities, states, territories, district and our nation.
Lt. Gen. Rice: My role is not the same as a traditional AF major command (MAJCOM) commander’s role. While the ANG is considered one of 11 MAJCOMs, my role is that of a director, not a commander. So, as a director, I manage the training, organization and equipping of a force with more than 107,600 personnel, and growing. That’s a lot of people in a lot of places. We have airmen in over a hundred entities, 90 wings and 10 centers supporting every AF mission to the same standards as their active duty counterparts.
As for the state of the ANG, we’re relatively healthy. We use two primary measures of readiness, end strength and effective manning. We have met our annual end strength goals in a majority of the last 15 years including this past fiscal year. While our end strength numbers are very good, what we’re really after is our effective manning. Do we have the right people in the right job with the right training? For a variety of reasons, not all airmen will be available for duty all the time. Our goal is to sustain an effective manning rate of at least 90%. We’re a very healthy force.
Historically we have averaged an 85% effective manning rate. Strong leadership and retention efforts have raised the rate to almost 90%. Right now we are manned effectively. Effective manning translates into a more ready, lethal force. So are we effective? Are we efficient and are we providing the forces the Air Force needs? Yes, very much so.
Lt. Gen. Rice: I have three fundamental priorities. First and foremost is our mission and making sure that we’re ready to complete our mission successfully, whether it be overseas, when the president calls on us through the Department of Defense or by leveraging the resources the Department of Defense funds for us in governors’ state missions to help our states, communities, and neighbors when natural or man-made disasters strike.
My second priority is our people, our 21st Century Guard Airmen. My focus is on empowering them as leaders and decision makers while ensuring they have the resources to get the job done. It’s a whole person, whole family concept.
I am concerned not only about the wellbeing of our service members but also about the spouses and the kids and other family members whose support of the service is vital to our success. You might say that family members are “drafted” into the service. I want to be sure they understand the mission, the benefits and what it means to be community based. So, my second priority is our people.
My third priority is preparing for the future by building for tomorrow’s fight. This includes preparing for everything from modernizing and recapitalizing our equipment to getting our organization right and to building partnerships across the DoD, our federal government, our states and communities, as well as leveraging capabilities and capacity of our overseas partnerships.
So, taking care of our mission, our 21st Century Guard Airman and building a force for the future are my top priorities.
Airman Magazine: Why is it important to build 21st Century Guard Airmen and what are you doing across the ANG to support that concept?
Lt. Gen. Rice: So there’s the cliché of reliable and relevant.
“Always There, Always Ready” is one of the mottos of the National Guard and we take it very seriously. It comes from a heritage extending over 370 years during which America’s Minutemen have served as a militia force in defense of the Homeland. We’re in the fields, we’re in the communities, we work there, we grow our families there, and we’re always ready, always there when our nation or our community calls to provide defense locally or internationally.
“Always Ready, Always There” leads to relevant and reliable. It’s the piece I’m working on with all of our people, making sure they’re trained and making sure they’re properly equipped. And lastly, making sure they’re organized with the necessary command and control network to optimize their capabilities and use of time. Their time is a very precious resource and we want to ensure that it is spent appropriately.
Airman Magazine: What does it mean to be a Citizen Airman in an environment that is empowering Airman across the force to drive a culture of innovation?
Lt. Gen. Rice: Today’s emphasis on innovation and innovative thinking highlights an important Guard strength…as a part time force, about 70 percent of our members are exposed to innovative advances that are occurring in the civilian sector, especially in the area of technology, so we come to the table with new ideas. Only 30 percent of our force is fulltime… their job is to train, organize, equip the force, and make sure that 100 percent of the force is always ready to go. The seventy percent that lives and grows in the community has great, innovative ideas solutions to bring forth from the field, from the business communities, from all those communities that surround all of our bases. That’s a great way to apply innovative thinking to all we do.
Airman Magazine: What is the ANG’s perspective of Total Force Integration?
Lt. Gen. Rice: The Air National Guard is guided by five capstone principles that include enhancing missions using the organized militia construct and a cost effective dual use of equipment overseas and stateside. A third principle addresses sustaining an ANG that is concurrent and balanced with the growth and development of the active duty Air Force. The concurrent and balance strategy ensures our relevance and interoperability with the Total Force. I build the reliability and the people while ensuring that we meet the same capabilities and standards as the active duty Air Force. Plug and play is a real easy thing for the Air National Guard. So when I look at total force, that is what I’m looking at…we’re not different in the sense of what we do, we’re just different in that a part-time, full-time mix is more cost effective.
Lt. Gen. Rice: I’ve personally seen some of our innovative Guardsmen solve problems using the support and help of their companies. It’s been inspiring to see how the business community and the local communities come together to rally behind an individual who is serving. We also have people in our force, in our service, who are senior executives for many Fortune 500 global companies. There are also small businesses where Air National Guard members are CEOs and they adapt their civilian experience and knowledge to their service in the Guard.
Airman Magazine: What are some of the biggest challenges the Air National Guard faces today and what is the way ahead?
Lt. Gen. Rice: Well, talent management is a challenge for DoD and for the Air Force as well as for the Air National Guard. We see stressors in areas where the civilian market is very competitive and is outbidding us for the services of our people.
So, for areas like pilot manning, the civilian market is very competitive in hiring away pilots. My challenge is to communicate to our Guardsmen, the pilot community at large, particularly to military pilots, that you can do both, serve your Nation as a member of the Air National Guard and provide for your family… that is, with great pride you can provide stability for your family by staying in one place, and have a civilian job in your community and patriotically serve your country in the National Guard. So that’s one of the challenges, it’s really talent management in terms of competing with the civilian market to attract the communities’ best and the brightest.
At the same time, the recruiting pool of military eligible young people is shrinking. A large portion of our youth are unable to serve in the US military, whether because of conflicts with the law, because of their health or just because of their general aptitude. It’s a real challenge.
Lt. Gen. Rice: Since 9/11 the Air National Guard has evolved from being regarded primarily as a strategic reserve force to being an operational force. There are a couple of reasons for this transformation. We’ve always had the same standards of deployment, mobilization and training as the active duty Air Force. There’s no difference in our standards for the number of events needed to be qualified and current in a weapon system.
The events surrounding 9/11 were a real game changer. Prior to 9/11 we had a number of cuts to U.S. military end strength through the nineties. It was a period of confidence that America was a sanctuary safe from internal threats… we were more overseas focused.
After 9/11, we realized that we were vulnerable and we still needed to defend the skies over our home cities. Defending the Nation is the number one priority of our Department of Defense and that means doing operations at home like Operation Noble Eagle and having alert bases spread out all over the country. The airspace alert mission is a perfect fit for the Air National Guard…it’s a national defense mission that we perform with great pride and great effectiveness.
Airman Magazine: What role does the Air National Guard play in the State Partnership Program? Can you please provide examples of the ANG’s participation and its impact?
Lt. Gen. Rice: 25 years ago, with the fall of the wall in Germany, there was a need and desire, particularly from some of those nations that were under Soviet influence, to know how do you (the United States) do it? How do you mix your officer corps and your NCO corps? What’s the culture of the U.S. military? It started as a cultural exchange between a number of our states and our allied countries who had an indigenous population in the states. For example, a lot of Latvians were living in Michigan. It was a natural connection between Michigan and Latvia.
A country like Latvia might reason where should we focus our energies? We (Latvia) can’t be all things to everyone like the United States is capable of being and we certainly aren’t the size and shape that we could defend ourselves unilaterally against a country nearby like Russia. So how do we focus our efforts that are appropriate for our capabilities?
We’re far better off working together. We have mutual interests and mutual ideals regarding making the world a more peaceful place. We can definitely do it together. The United States cannot and does not want to manage the world unilaterally. We’ve got to work to work together on a multi-national basis.
Ukraine has a partnership with California. They say, “We’re under great stress, Russia has invaded a portion of our country. How do we (Ukraine) go forward? What is the right balance of the use of force and diplomacy in negotiations?”
Where do they turn? They turn to California and the military leadership of the National Guard to help them move forward with a strategy that has provided the Ukraine relative stability, but remains under great stress.
Airman Magazine: How have cyber missions helped transform the ANG and how do you capitalize on civilian sector experience?
Lt. Gen. Rice: Cyber specifically is one area where we’ve really flourished in bringing in the civilian sector, which in a lot of ways is much more innovative because they’re so much more agile and adaptive in the civilian market there. They’re not constrained by a huge standardized bureaucracy.
It’s hard to change the direction of our focus because we have so many systems and going to a new system is almost cost prohibitive. So how do we import civilian market agility into the military? We do it through people serving in the National Guard who are working in those innovative cyber fields.
Now the next hard part is determining policies that are needed for us to live, work and operate effectively in a cyber world that that doesn’t have state or national boundaries. Also, how do we protect Americans and yet not invade their privacy at the same time? How do we go after those nefarious characters who we all swore allegiance to defend our nation against, both foreign and domestic?
So, that’s the hard part we’re working through in cyber and it’s an exciting time for us as we move forward.
Lt. Gen. Rice: The F-35 is definitely a game changer for the United States Air Force. We talk about multi-domain awareness and multiple multi-domain systems, but really, the subject is multidimensional operations across our joint force.
When you have something that’s such a vacuum cleaner for information like the F-35, with its processing power and capability and its ability with a fine razor’s edge to implement the war fighting piece of the platform, it’s going to change significantly the way we do warfare.
So we (the Air National Guard) are honored to be one of the first three units in the Air Force to field the F-35. We are well on our way to a establishing our unit in Burlington. We’re getting all the maintenance facilities and taxiways ready and we’re getting all the people trained and organized and ready to accept and deploy this new fighter as quickly as possible.
The next F-35 locations for the Air National Guard will be Montgomery, Alabama and Madison, Wisconsin. We’re pretty excited and we’ve already started down the path of preparing those bases as well.
Airman Magazine: How do you balance the acquisition of the advanced strike fighter while maintaining and modernizing a legacy fleet?
Lt. Gen. Rice: It’s a challenge because we are resource limited. If I could, I would modernize our whole fleet and make it relevant, reliable, and very maintenance capable. I’d love to, but I do have to balance that with a limited budget. We can only buy so much and we can only fix and improve so much and I’m constantly managing that balance across our force.
For example, – we have brand new C-130Js in our fleet and we have over 130 C-130Hs to keep modern and relevant. In 2020 there will be changes in the rules and laws on use of aircraft in our national airspace. All our aircraft will be required to have an updated detection and avoidance system after 1 January 2020. We have to modernize all of our legacy equipment to make sure we have the required systems, which is a program that we’re putting a lot of time, money and effort into.
It’s a challenge, but we don’t do this in a vacuum and decide on our own what we want to change and buy new or change and fix. We don’t decide that. That was decided by the Air Force community and we work together to modernize or recapitalize the fleet. This is one example where we are one force as we drive forward to get the best equipment for our people at the right time in the right place.
Airman Magazine: Guard flying wings are now regularly on a theater support packages to train in Europe and the Pacific. What are the units learning from these experiences?
Lt. Gen. Rice: They are learning by going to new places, new locations and they’re really getting a depth of experience by operating with foreign partners.
Just this past summer, I visited Romania and saw one of our F-15C units flying and training with the Romanians and to understand how they operate while learning from them, as well as informing them how we operate. Together we’re evolving into a closer more unified force, because again, it gets back to when there is conflict and when there is friction, we’re far better off doing this together than we are as separate units and separate forces. It’s a win-win for all countries involved.
There’s also something special about deploying a Guard unit. The Guard tends to be more like family because we don’t move from home stations like active duty personnel. So you get to know people better and there’s a different level of trust and respect because you do know each other.
Then you deploy that small unit, whether it’s for one week, three months or a year, the members really grow together quite well. I don’t see that as much on active duty, because when they deploy or go TDY it’s a transient force within the deployment, people are coming and going. In the Guard, we know each other better, work together better, and that really helps us.
Airman Magazine: With the state of the world today, is there anything, as the Director of the Air National Guard that keeps you up at night?
Lt. Gen. Rice: Not really and I’m not trying to be arrogant about it, I’m being realistic about it. One of the greatest things I’ve learned, particularly as I get higher in the rank, is that there are exceptional people working for us in the Air National Guard, the Air Force and the DoD and with leaders like we have in our military there is no problem, no situation, no challenge that comes to me right now we couldn’t solve together.
It’s a pretty exciting time and there are a lot of changes and challenges in the world.
I just want to make sure I have the best training, the best equipment, the best organization I can provide for the benefit of our people. This is all about leveraging the strengths of our people and getting them in the right place at the right time. This job is not really a job. This is definitely an adventure.
Lt. Gen. Rice: I’ve been in this position for two years with two more years to go and I’d like to say, keep at it. I feel it. I sense it. I’ve visited around 70 of our 90 wings and there’s an unbelievable balance in our Airmen and they’re doing outstanding at taking care of their families, their employers, and their communities while working to be the best they can be.
Most importantly, they’re taking care of themselves and they’re making themselves stronger, more resilient and they are a model for our United States to follow on what it means to be a good person, a good American, and that will provide a future for our kids and our grandkids that we all can be proud of.
Airman Magazine: Speaking of the future, what are some of the major changes you see on the horizon for the National Guard?
Lt. Gen. Rice: We are deep into changing our focus to supporting two primary priorities of the Secretary of Defense and his National Defense Strategy. Secretary Mattis is really working on readiness and the lethality of our force, making sure all of this money that we’ve been recently blessed with from Congress is dedicated to improving our lethality, getting our manning to the right size – the force we need – and getting them trained and equipped in the right way, as well as making sure we understand a unit’s true capability when reporting readiness assessments. At the same time, we’re really focusing on all the different types of threats and making sure that we can effectively put our exquisite systems against those high-end threats whenever and wherever required.
We’re using very practical approaches and very logical and cost-effective approaches against the low-end threats that are ever present, which have been consuming us for the last 20 years. It’s all about making sure we have the right balance moving forward, between taking care of low-end threat missions, while being prepared for high-end threats and making sure that we hone the lethality of our force to a razor sharp edge while staying focused on the job at hand…defending America to the best of our ability.
Women's Initiative Team : Taking Initiative, Breaking Barriers
Valenzia: ABMS Will Deliver the "Decision Advantage"
Disruptive Technology: The Quantum Frontier
Airframe: The F-35A Lightning II
Virtual Aggression - Real World Response
21st Century Recruiting Maj. Gen. Thomas
Preparing For A Storm
Airframe: The F-117 Nighthawk
Negative for COVID
A Natural Partnership
21st Century Deterrence
A Case for Space
PODCAST: Maj. Gen. Thomas, AFRS
The New Normal
B-52: Global Strike Workhorse
Learning Some Cold Truths
PODCAST: Maj. Gen. Higby
CMSAF Wright Looks Back
An Airman: First, Last, Always
Arctic Strategy Unveiled
PODCAST: Brig. Gen. Melancon
The Future Is Now
The A.I. Advantage
Everybody Looks Up
Red, White and Blast-Off
Answering the Call
Last of the Raiders
The Disease Detectives
Great Power Competition
Managing the Future Talent
Leader of the Pack
Research, Acquire, Sustain, Repeat
Foundation for Arctic Security
25th SecAF Barbara Barrett - The First Interview
Engaging the Arctic
Based In Trust
Built From Scratch
Air Base 201
PODCAST: ASAF Henderson
Closing the Gap
Squadrons 'Beating Heart' of the Air Force
Guarding the Nation's Skies
Faces on the Hill
Building A Power Base
Gateway To Readiness
At Close Range
Looking Down Range
The New Deterrent
PODCAST: Civil Air Patrol
Airframe: The CV-22 Osprey
Stewards of the Land
The Wright Stuff
SecAF Heather Wilson
PODCAST: Dr. Will Roper
Character Takes Flight
Talent and Total Force
Airframe: The B-17 Flying Fortress
Airframe: The Stearman Kaydet
Time is of the Essence
Airframe: The T-6A Texan II
Serving, Saving, Shaping
Airframe: The B-2 Spirit
21st Century Air National Guard
Out of the Box
Airframe: The HH-60G Pave Hawk
Changing the Story
The Agile 99th
Big Solutions From Small Places
The Lever of Culture
The Flying First
Sweet Taste of Freedom
Airframe: The T-38 Talon
Airframe: The KC-135 Stratotanker
Thawing the Middle
Airman To Be Awarded Medal Of Honor
In Perpetual Mission
Airframe: The C-5 Galaxy
Stop The Bleed, Save A Life
Speed and Fusion
Airframe: The EC-130H Compass Call
Staying On Track
Airframe: The B-1B Lancer
Icon of Airmanship
U.S. Air Force Chief Scientist
Advancing At The Speed Of Relevance
Airframe: The B-52H Stratofortress
No Detail Too Small
Airframe: The C-17 Globemaster III
Care in the Air
Airframe: The F-16 Fighting Falcon
The State of U.S. Strategic Command
Meet Under Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan
Airframe: The E-3 Sentry (AWACS)
Airframe: The AC-130 Gunship
Where the Sun Never Sets
Firing Up the Force
Formation of Friendship
Airframe: The A-10 Thunderbolt II
Airframe: The F-22 Raptor
A View from the Pacific
Creating Synthetic Teammates
Optimizing the Data Loop
Airframe: The F-15 Eagle
Global Already There
Airframe: The U-2 Dragon Lady
An Innovative Collaborative
Airframe: The SR-71 Blackbird
Battlefield Game Changer
Airframe: The F-35A Lightning II
No English, No Problem
The First Interview
ACC Flight Plan
The Night Watchmen
Guarding the Skies
Faces of Deterrence
The State of Air Force Medicine
Partners In Sight
Cadet Falconers Take Flight
F-4 Flies for Final Time
Farewell to the Chief
A Beneficial Development
Recipe For Success
A Mighty Display of Democracy
The Aircraft Canaries
Eyewitness To Infamy
Point Of Recovery
Avoiding the Last Step
Acquire, Assess, Exploit
Meals Readily Explained
Down the Hatch
Whispers of Another War
Bonjour, Mon Nom Est...
Embrace the Paste
Original Air Force One
Farewell to the Force
The Man-Machine Interface
The Swat Team
From Cradle To Space
Comfort in the Cold
House Of Pain
A Fighting Raven
Formation of a Legacy
Struck By The Thunderbolt
The Perfect Storm
A Solemn Mission
Aspiring To New Heights
Beyond the Blast Doors
Blood, Sweat, Perfection
An Original Rosie
Missing In America
"They Call Me Legend"
Forever An Airman
Forward From Vietnam
Digging For Answers
Behind the Hat
Santa By C-130
Civil War Moments
From Beyond the Flames
Hang In There
One Step Forward
The Human Weapon
The Perfect Edge
The Hands Of Time
Standing in the Door
From the Ground Up
A Spartan Death
Ties That Bind
Trauma To Triumph
'Katrina Girl' Found
A Look Back
C-17 Health Care
Students of Fire
Bird's Eye View
Frozen Tundra Warriors
Taking a Load Off
Full Steam Ahead
Maintaining Red Flag
Crossing Country Line
Taking It to the Woods
Heavens to Betsy