The Air National Guard is made up of civilians with Air Force specialties who provide homeland emergency relief and combat-ready units for war abroad.
The Air National Guard is a civilian force that trains and practices Air Force specialties to provide homeland emergency relief and combat-ready units for war abroad.
The Air National Guard is composed of 106,700 dedicated, professional airmen and women who serve in 89 flying units and 579 mission support units. These airmen and women serve both a homeland mission in individual states and a federal mission.
In the homeland mission, reserve units are under the command of their state Governor and supervised by the Adjutant General. Across the U.S., units provide:
- Emergency relief support during natural disasters such as floods
- Earthquakes and forest fires
- Search and rescue operations
- Support to civil defense authorities
- Maintenance of vital public services
- Counterdrug operations.
In the federal mission, combat-ready units mobilize for war in three situations:
- Under the command of the active duty Air Force
- During contingency operations such as Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan
- During peace time with training, mobilization readiness and humanitarian missions
The Air National Guard provides almost half of the Air Force's tactical airlift support, combat communications functions, aeromedical evacuations and aerial refueling at a fraction of the cost of the active duty Air Force. In addition, the Air National Guard has total responsibility for air defense of the entire United States.
Unlike the active duty Air Force, most airmen and women have full-time jobs in their local communities. These part-time professional airmen, or “traditionals,” have civilian careers but spend weekends and evenings training and practicing the Air Force specialties, including nearly every job in the active duty Air Force – medical, civil engineers, security forces, logistics, maintenance, intelligence, space operations, cyberspace defense and aviation.
History of the Air National Guard
The Air National Guard was officially born on September 18, 1947, the same day the Air Force became a separate service under the National Security Act of 1947. In the late 1940s, the Air National Guard consisted of 58,000 members and 84 flying squadrons. These flying units included 72 fighter and 12 light bomber squadrons equipped with obsolescent propeller-driven technology when the Air Force was transitioning into jet fighters.