Air National Guard Director urges military medical professionals to continue focus on mission during budget proposals
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (June 10, 2012) – Although proposed budget cuts may cause “uncertainty” and “angst” throughout the Air National Guard, the reserve component will continue to prove its value , according to the Director of the Air National Guard.
“That is exactly the type of environment where the Air National Guard excels,” said Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt during an address to Air National Guard medical professionals at a training seminar in Northeast Florida June 9. “We are exactly where we want to be. We are the most cost-effective force that the United States Air Force has…and we are going to be okay.”
Wyatt spoke to nearly 700 Airmen at the 2012 Readiness Frontiers Training for the Air National Guard Medical Services, in Jacksonville, explaining how upcoming budgetary decisions in Washington may lead to a volatile year for the Air Guard.
Earlier this year a proposal to eliminate 5,100 Air National Guard billets from the President’s Fiscal Year 2013 Budget proposal drew concern from Guard leaders.
But, Wyatt noted, a positive aspect is that the Air National Guard has support from Congress, and the Air Force is gaining more understanding of the role the Air National Guard has in the total force.
Quoting former Director of the Air National Guard Maj. Gen. Donald Shepperd, Wyatt told the medical professionals that in the past a strong Air National Guard depended upon a strong active duty Air Force. He said that he believes the paradigm is now shifting and “a strong Air Force depends on a strong Air National Guard.”
The general also told the audience that the more than 106,000 members of the Air National Guard will “weather” the budget cuts, like they did prior to September 2001.
“We have done this before, we can do it again,” Wyatt said. “We are the most cost effective part of the United States Air Force.”
He cautioned the medical professionals about letting themselves get depressed or overly concerned with budgetary issues, and urged them to continue to focus on their missions rather than budget pressures at the national level.
“The message I want you to take back to your Airmen is that this is a time of turmoil, you can get really depressed,” he said. “…we can’t let our people get caught up in that. Don’t worry about things that you have no control over. It’s okay to be concerned, but don’t worry about (the uncertainty).”
The two-week long 2012 Readiness Frontiers Training provides specialized training to Air National Guard medical personnel with workshops like clinical care, bioenvironmental engineering, and career development. Keynote speakers at the conference included; Command Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Muncy; National Guard Bureau Air Surgeon Col. Brett Wyrick; and Air National Guard Assistant to the Surgeon General of the U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Kirk Martin.