What's with these Guard guys!???

Lt. Col. Ryan Samuelson speaks after assuming command of the 64th Air Refueling Squadron, Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., June 2, 2011.

Lt. Col. Ryan Samuelson speaks after assuming command of the 64th Air Refueling Squadron, Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., June 2, 2011.

Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H. -- A farewell article to the patriots of the Air National Guard from Lt Col Ryan Samuelson, 64 ARS/CC:

Team, I recently wrote an article as a farewell address for the 157th Ops Group's monthly newsletter as I prepare to leave command. Surprising to me, many people asked me to forward to the greater Wing community here at Pease ANGB. It is simply a few thoughts (of thousands I could write) of my time spent here serving with and learning from the Air National Guard (ANG). I appreciate you educating me on how the ANG works and for listening, learning and partnering with the Regular Air Force Active Duty as we built a successful association together. An association that isn't about what is best for the ANG or the Active Duty, but an association that is best for this great country.

"What's with these Guard guys!???"

It was a saying I heard many years ago in a land filled with sand. A time when I had never served side-by-side with someone from the Air National Guard. A time when the Total Force was just beginning to serve with each other overseas more and more. The tone was derogatory. The question stated in antipathy. Maybe it was said out of frustration, maybe it was said out of resentment. It was likely said out of ignorance. Not intentional ignorance, but ignorance born of unawareness and inexperience. At the time, I didn't ponder it much as I was getting ready to fly a mission. Here is what I wish I could have conveyed as a response to that question:

" Well, let me tell you what I have learned about "these Guard guys"...let me rephrase, "Guard professional Airmen".

I have learned the Guard is about working in a collaborative environment; one where ideas from all are shared both up and down the chain of command. A chain of command that actively seeks the free flow of ideas and is genuinely interested in "buy in" from the people it leads.

I have learned the Guard is about managing the complexity of personnel who operate in a multitude of "statuses"--all while supporting more mission set, both Federal and State combined, than many Active Duty units do. A single ANG aircrew compliment could be comprised of 4 personnel who, while overseas are all governed by Federal "Title 10" rules, yet back home may all 4 operate under different statuses and management rules. I still haven't figured out how they do it.

I have learned the Guard, through its development of the ANG Strategic Plan and Domestic Operations Equipment Requirements process, fully supports and greatly enhances the future capabilities of the Total Force--not simply ANG efforts, and not simply a subset of Active Duty plans. But ANG plans which develop and field much of our national security capabilities. Just look here within Pease ANGB to our medical partners who built the medical element of the CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) team--if you don't know what I am talking about, you need to check it out.

I have learned it is the Guard who incorporates many of the positive changes to the AFIs and Technical Orders that guide our greater Air Force compliance-based approach to operations. Operations which benefit from the incredible wealth of talent and experience which calls the ANG home. I am amazed at the depth of knowledge personnel who might not have deployed in two years have on current national operations and future requirements.

I have learned the Guard is absolutely a learning organization capable of achieving any task it is given. In standing up the Active Associate squadron here, the ANG in partnership with Active Duty solved complex issues--often times with little clear written guidance from higher headquarters. In the absence of an approved Integration Plan, which was held up in staffing, the ANG established MOUs, internal policies and previously untested processes. In the numerous instances where existing AFIs called out different criteria for Active Duty and ANG personnel, this Wing chose to find an integrated answer to the problem and to codify it into a local OI or process rather than leave it as a disconnect in an integrated unit. In light of the fact we often operate in the "?" realm where other established organizations have clear guidance, our daily focus has always been to ensure we were meeting Chief of Staff of the Air Force direction to fully integrate Active Duty personnel into the structure of our host wing in order to best serve the Combatant Commanders' needs. That is a learning organization.

I have learned the Guard provides roughly 33% of the Air Force capability at 7% of the budget with a force that is 70% Traditional. There is often a lack of understanding of how the ANG is currently structured, budgeted and often funded as a Strategic reserve yet operates as a fully viable Operational force--and a busy one at that. I do hope the education and understanding of both Active Duty and ANG patriots continues about each other's constraints as we serve together in the coming years of fiscal challenges. We are one team.

I have learned the Guard is proud of its culture and should be. It is a culture where people blend friendship and camaraderie perfectly with a burning desire to rapidly respond to any mission, state or federal, in need of accomplishment. Pease ANGB has proven national mission effectiveness and efficiency can be enhanced while blending and preserving the things that make Active Duty and ANG "culture" each distinctly unique--and worth protecting.

I have learned the Guard has taught me so much that I could take up a hundred pages, but this article will not allow that....so let me finish with this...

I have learned the Guard is about taking care of the people who make up the organization, the families, the communities and the country. A country whose fabric is tied together with strong family and community bonds is destined to remain a great one.

I have learned the Guard is an organization I have come to know and immensely respect. I'm glad we're on the same team."

For me: It's been fun, it's been educational, it's been life changing. As I wrap up my tour as the 64th Air Refueling Squadron Commander, I say "Thank you Pease ANGB for three and a half great years". You are making your people, your communities, your Air Force and your country better every day. Thank you for letting me be a part of it and thank you for helping teach me how to answer a very simple question. I will not forget my future answer. I know you have come to see the Regular Air Force Active Duty you welcomed in as family in a special way as well. I wish all of you absolutely the best life can offer!