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NEWS | Nov. 16, 2012

Air National Guard Strategic Planning Systems conference helping bridge to the future

By Col. Nahaku McFadden National Guard Bureau

LEESBURG, Va. - The question of where the Air National Guard will be in 2025 was the topic of conversation for 300 senior ANG leaders from across the nation at the Strategic Planning Systems conference here Tuesday. The answer to that question, SPS committee chair Brig. Gen. Joseph G. Balskus assured attendees, was within their grasp.

"We started out in 2005 and now look where we are," Balskus observed. "We are looking ahead to the future of the Air National Guard in 2025. We are building the bridges necessary for total communication with guidance from the field."

A "Strong Air Force, Strong Air National Guard; Defending America" was the theme for the SPS conference. The SPS, Balskus noted, started as a field-driven initiative to provide strategic priorities for the ANG. The committee develops proposals within the SPS or by working with the National Guard Bureau staff. Two SPS representatives are appointed by the Adjutants General from the 54 states, territories and District of Columbia.

Deputy Director of the ANG, Brig. Gen. James "JC" Witham, said it was time to roll up our sleeves.

"We need to have the discourse between each other [states and National Guard Bureau] in order to get to 2025," Witham said. "The beauty of this system is that it tells us the path that we want."

SPS committee members developed five strategic priorities. They are:

  • Provide the right people in the right place with the right skills;
  • Fulfill roles and missions that meet federal, state, territory, and district defense and security requirements today and in the future;
  • Build strength through partnerships within and beyond the ANG;
  • Apply consistent, responsive, and transparent processes to ANG organizational activities; and
  • Communicate with many voices, one message.

Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, the director of the ANG, thanked the SPS committee for their leadership over the past few years.

"A lot of things that we are doing now, we have never done before and it's because of the great work being done with the SPS," Wyatt explained. "The groundwork was done right here. I know what is important to the field and what is important to the wings, and I know that you will continue to support the next director."

The next big mountain to climb, Wyatt added, is to determine how best to posture the Air National Guard of 2025.

"We (the ANG) offer the best value proposition for this country in the area of defense," Wyatt stated. "Congress recognizes the importance of the Air National Guard doing the homeland defense mission. I like where we are."