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  • The National Guard, and Search and Rescue

    Another post on another thread really struck a nerve with me, primarily because the poster was probably uneducated about the Guard, what they're for, and how they do business.

    As a former crewmember with the Army Guard, and current Air Guardsman, I'd like to do a little educating here. This is NOT a political post, just an information dissemination.

    Did you know?

    The 210th, 211th, and 212th Rescue squadrons are NOT here to do search and rescue in Alaska. The reason they exist is to keep themselves trained, and ready to deploy to a combat theater of operations, and rescue downed airmen in combat. A secondary mission, since they're here anyway, is to provide recover assets for the fighters at Elmendorf, and Eielson. As a tertiary mission, since they're here anyway, is to assist local authorities in civilian search and rescue on an "as available" basis.

    The 1/207th AVN (Army Guard) is NOT here to perform medevac/ SAR operations in the YK delta, Nome, Juneau area. They exist to support the infantry battalions that are scattered around the state. Since they are here anyway, the sometimes get called on an "as available" basis to assist in medevac and SAR.

    The Department of Public Safety reimburses the guard for the flight hours flown on SAR missions. In some cases, the DPS recoups the money from native corporations, or private insurance. This depends on the nature of the rescue.

    The National Guard is the MOST cost effective military asset the US has. This is for a variety of reasons (too many to list here, but here's a start).

    Pay: most maintenance, and a lot of crewmembers are paid as civilians. They get paid an hourly rate. They have to pay for their own housing, and medical insurance. When tax breaks are figured in, a WG-11 senior maintainer takes home a little less than an active duty E-4

    Permanent Change of Station: Every couple of years, the active duty pays millions of dollars (maybe billions?) to move people and their families to a different base. Alaska Guardsmen to not get moved, they stay here their whole careers.

    Culture and experience: The guard takes better care of it's equipment. Since we hire people through an interview process, and not just take everyone off the street, we typically have an aggregate better quality member. The Guard has a sense of ownership of the airframes, since they are going to be the same airframes they're going to work on their entire career. Also, most Guardsmen have already been on active duty for awhile, and have a lot more experience than the active duty counterpart.

    When a guard maintainer goes to work, he clocks in, puts his coveralls on, and starts turning wrenches. When an active duty maintainer comes to work, he goes to PT, takes a shower, goes to breakfast, comes back to work, goes to a sexual harassment briefing, moves the furniture around in his first sergeant's office, and maybe gets to do his job for a few hours a day. (this is a bit of an exaggeration, but not that much)

    To illustrate the cost effectiveness of the Guard. In 2004, the Army Guard got funded at $800 per hour to operate a Blackhawk with a crew of 3. The active duty got funded at $3500 per hour to operate the same type of aircraft.

    As far as rescues on McKinley, the Guard does not do that normally. That is has historically been an active duty mission provided my the 4-123 Sugarbears CH-47's out of Wainwright. That is a deal worked out between the NPS and the US Army paid for with climbing fees.

    I assure all of you, that we take spending tax dollars very seriously, and try to be the best stewards of your money possible.
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  • #2
    Originally posted by Akheloce View Post
    When a guard maintainer goes to work, he clocks in, puts his coveralls on, and starts turning wrenches. When an active duty maintainer comes to work, he goes to PT, takes a shower, goes to breakfast, comes back to work, goes to a sexual harassment briefing, moves the furniture around in his first sergeant's office, and maybe gets to do his job for a few hours a day.
    Great post, though I have to argue with this one little bit. I was regular, active duty Army. We did PT and Breakfast long before the work day started. Then we started turning wrenches about the time most people were just getting out of bed. We got one "union break" in the mid-morning and one in the mid-afternoon, plus our lunch hour. Aside from that, we turned wrenches all the way to sun-down, quite often working well after the cubicle types had gone home for the day. We often had to work weekends and holidays. When we went to the field, we worked shifts that could last over 18 hours, only being allowed enough time to quickly scarf down an MRE and catch a couple hours of sleep... right next to your tool box or in the cab of your truck.

    I can remember going to special training sessions only a few times per year. Never been to a "sexual harrassment" class in the military, though. Our classes involved machine guns and running or maintaining equipment.
    Winter is Coming...

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    • #3
      Quick question, I could be wrong but I thought the Guard in all services was directed by the Govenor of that state. I know that units or parts of units are deployed to overseas assingments all the time but in times of disaster at the command of the Govenor the Guard could be full time disaster relief. How does that dual control / command work?

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      • #4
        I thought the National Guard was under the State's control until activated by the President for deployment at which time it falls under the national chain of command, which, to me, would say that SAR within the state would very much be a primary mission. In fact I would be willing to bet one (1) U.S. dollar that in terms of real life SARs the national guard does more in-state missions than when when they are deployed.
        The winner isn't the person with the most gold when they die, but rather, the person with the most stories.

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        • #5
          Wes, you're correct, but there is a difference between reality, and justification for funding. Sure, a lot of the flying done in state is civilian rescue, but the reason the units exist and get money from Uncle Sugar is the federal mission. Federal vs. State control is a very convoluted issue. The theory is that the President can activate the guard at unit level, and force them to deploy to perform their federal mission. The reality is that a lot of us go on federal missions by choice, alleviating the need to be presidentially activated. However in MANY instances, units get activated through no choice of their own, like the 144th AS, 210/211/212 RQS, as well as the Army's 207th. The relationship between the feds and the state and the guard has been a tenuous one since WWI... the NG has become more and more a defacto reserve to the active duty, as opposed to the state asset it was intended to be in founding father days.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by ocnfish View Post
            Quick question, I could be wrong but I thought the Guard in all services was directed by the Govenor of that state. I know that units or parts of units are deployed to overseas assingments all the time but in times of disaster at the command of the Govenor the Guard could be full time disaster relief. How does that dual control / command work?

            To explain in a bit of oversimplification:

            The Feds pay for the iron, the people, the training, the facilities. The state pays for the flight time, and in some cases the pay when the asset is used on a state mission. The state basically "rents" the assets when needed for a state mission/ natural disaster, etc (however in some cases, feds will pay for that too, when the state requests FEMA money)
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            • #7
              Sorry but I don't get what the beef is. I fully understand the Title 10 vs. Title 32 (as much as anyone can without smoking tons of peyote). I donít think any of us question the Guards war-fighting roll (10), or how they execute the state mission (32).

              In my opinion the 210/211/212 are some of the most professional aviators in the world. I believe it was the COUGER ACE where they had to tank three times at night in a storm on the way to the rescue, and then pulled 11 (?) people of a heavily listing ship under hurricane conditions. Big F---ing Brass ones!!!! It is a team effort; aircrew, maintainers, admin, and log guys and gals, all have a vital roll to play.

              Having said all of that do you think there is a better training mission than flying real SARís in a non-combat environment? There may be some reporting and chain of command variances but the nuts and bolts of the mission are the same. In my opinion it is a win win for everyone.

              If I missed the point you were making sorry.

              Just my nickel
              Drew
              Normal people believe that if something ain't broke, don't fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.

              Scott Adams

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Toddler View Post
                Sorry but I don't get what the beef is. I fully understand the Title 10 vs. Title 32 (as much as anyone can without smoking tons of peyote). I donít think any of us question the Guards war-fighting roll (10), or how they execute the state mission (32).

                In my opinion the 210/211/212 are some of the most professional aviators in the world. I believe it was the COUGER ACE where they had to tank three times at night in a storm on the way to the rescue, and then pulled 11 (?) people of a heavily listing ship under hurricane conditions. Big F---ing Brass ones!!!! It is a team effort; aircrew, maintainers, admin, and log guys and gals, all have a vital roll to play.

                Having said all of that do you think there is a better training mission than flying real SARís in a non-combat environment? There may be some reporting and chain of command variances but the nuts and bolts of the mission are the same. In my opinion it is a win win for everyone.

                If I missed the point you were making sorry.

                Just my nickel
                Drew
                There was a post in the "bent cub" thread with said that the Guard was a waste of money, and that it should all be rolled into the active duty... that really chapped my behind. Rather than further derail that thread, I started a new one.
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                • #9
                  "Also, most Guardsmen have already been on active duty for awhile, and have a lot more experience than the active duty counterpart."

                  As a 17 year active duty member with a couple deployments directly working with Air Guard personal at those locations, I can guarantee this is not true. While yes quite a few had done stints in the Active world, very little had deployment experience. I definately see a role for the guard and reserve but this claim is simply not true.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MikeL View Post
                    "Also, most Guardsmen have already been on active duty for awhile, and have a lot more experience than the active duty counterpart."

                    As a 17 year active duty member with a couple deployments directly working with Air Guard personal at those locations, I can guarantee this is not true. While yes quite a few had done stints in the Active world, very little had deployment experience. I definately see a role for the guard and reserve but this claim is simply not true.

                    We'll just have to disagree on that one. Maybe our experiences are different, but in my Army unit, there was a couple years where I was one of only 2 or 3 non-prior active guys, and in my current unit, 27 of 32 E's were prior active, and an overwhealming percentage of the O's were prior active.
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Toddler View Post
                      I believe it was the COUGER ACE where they had to tank three times at night in a storm on the way to the rescue, and then pulled 11 (?) people of a heavily listing ship under hurricane conditions. Big F---ing Brass ones!!!! It is a team effort; aircrew, maintainers, admin, and log guys and gals, all have a vital roll to play. Drew
                      Close enough but really: Aerial Refueled 8 times to the boat. Not at night but very, very low vis for many hours. Hoisted 23 people from the boat. The seas at the boat weren't really that bad. Though not calm. Over 14 hours in the seat total.

                      Yours sounded better though.

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                      • #12
                        We'll just have to disagree on that one. Maybe our experiences are different, but in my Army unit, there was a couple years where I was one of only 2 or 3 non-prior active guys, and in my current unit, 27 of 32 E's were prior active, and an overwhealming percentage of the O's were prior active.
                        I saw that swap back and forth over the years. When I left active duty and went to the Army Guard the first time my unit was full of older guys who were probably 80% active duty vets. When that unit was disbanded after Desert Storm I went over to the Air Borne recon det and it was full of kids who had never been anywhere.
                        After a couple years of that BS I transferred to the Air Guard, which had various mixes over the next 14 years or so, depending on what was happening in the world.
                        I agree that the Guard has basically been turned into the Reserve ever since Desert Storm. Another reason why the indepenant Guard Bases are being moved onto the larger active duty bases.
                        The way things are going we will all be in the Chinese reserves before long.
                        Float-CFI, Photo Guide, Fishing Guide, Remote Kayaking
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by AK-HUNT View Post
                          Close enough but really: Aerial Refueled 8 times to the boat. Not at night but very, very low vis for many hours. Hoisted 23 people from the boat. The seas at the boat weren't really that bad. Though not calm. Over 14 hours in the seat total.

                          Yours sounded better though.
                          I knew it was a long mission and I thought the storm played some roll in her miss aligning her ballast and rolling over. Sorry I gooned it up. Good, bad, or indifferent - Thanks. It is good to know the A Team is in town.

                          Drew
                          Normal people believe that if something ain't broke, don't fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.

                          Scott Adams

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                          • #14
                            Sorry wasn't being critical at all. Intended that Post light-hearted and joking. Hard to tell that via Internet though....

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                            • #15
                              AKheloce - Thanks for the info.

                              Just being a pilot it's good to know our tax dollars are providing a lifeline if needed.

                              Rick

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