New Changes to Montgomery's Air National Guard Wing

One day after the pomp and circumstance, it's a good time to take a look at what the Air Force really expects with the changes for Montgomery's Air National Guard Wing.

The Air Force reinstated an old fighter squadron, but at the same time, it paved the way for more possible deployments for our pilots and air crews.

Air Force commanding general Michael Moseley is trying to smooth over a big change in how America's airmen manage their service. Instead of distinct National Guard, Reserve or Active Duty units, they'll all serve together.

"Leverage the limited resources we have available to increase our combat and homeland defense capabilities," said Moseley.

Because Moseley is asking Air Force managers to do more with fewer people, that raises some real questions about how much commanders will ask of service members. For instance, the combined unit idea means the Montgomery wing could go overseas as a single unit.

After the first Gulf War, the 187th served in both Northern and Southern Iraq, enforcing no fly zones and UN sanctions. Now, with the president planning to pull back all but a few thousand troops from Iraq, it seems likely commanders will have to rely on air power to protect those troops.

"It is absolutely critical and must always be so that the United States be able to dominate the air in any kind of conflict we get into today," Said Senator Jeff Sessions.

So, it seems logical to expect one thing: more deployed duty for Air Guard wings like the 187th. But Moseley won't confirm that need yet.

Of course, no one can say what will happen in the future. But the 187th's Commander, Col. Jeff Smiley, gave a couple of clues in his latest's commander's note to his group.

Among other items, he said the wing faces an operational readiness inspection in October 2008 - which he called the most important in the wing's history. In his words - big decisions are being made now and over the next couple years at the National Guard bureau, Air Command center and Air Force headquarters.

National Guard officials say Thursday's announcement also indicates the 187th's future in Montgomery seems secure.

Col. Smiley says the wing will get five new aircrafts no later than September 2008, and its new headquarters, fuel and maintenance building under construction at Dannelly Field... are on schedule for completion next year.