The Air National Guard has both a federal and state mission. The dualmission, a provision of the U. S. Constitution, results in each guardsman holding membership in the National Guard of his or her state and in theNational Guard of the United States.
The Air National Guard’s federal mission is to maintain well-trained,well-equipped units available for prompt mobilization during war and provideassistance during national emergencies (such as natural disasters or civildisturbances). During peacetime, the combat-ready units and support unitsare assigned to most Air Force major commands to carry out missionscompatible with training, mobilization readiness, humanitarian andcontingency operations such as Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.Air National Guard units may be activated in a number of ways as prescribedby public law. Most of the laws may be found in Title 10 of the U.S. Code.
The Air National Guard provides almost half of the Air Force’s tacticalairlift support, combat communications functions, aeromedical evacuationsand aerial refueling. In addition, the Air National Guard has totalresponsibility for air defense of the entire United States.
When Air National Guard units are not mobilized or under federal control,they report to the governor of their respective state, territory (PuertoRico, Guam, Virgin Islands) or the commanding general of the District ofColumbia National Guard. Each of the 54 National Guard organizations issupervised by the adjutant general of the state or territory. Under statelaw, the Air National Guard provides protection of life, property andpreserves peace, order and public safety. These missions are accomplishedthrough emergency relief support during natural disasters such as floods,earthquakes and forest fires; search and rescue operations; support to civildefense authorities; maintenance of vital public services and counterdrugoperations.
The primary sources of full-time support for Air National Guard units arethe dual-status military technician and guardsmen on active duty. Thesepeople perform day-to-day management, administration and maintenance. Bylaw, dual-status military technicians are civil service employees of thefederal government who must be military members of the unit that employsthem. Technicians train with the unit and are mobilized with it when it’sactivated. Active-duty members serve under the command authority of theirrespective state or territorial governors until mobilized for federal duty.The Air National Guard has more than 106,000 officers and enlisted peoplewho serve in 89 flying units and 579 mission support units.
The National Guard Bureau, both a staff and operating agency, administersthe federal functions of the Army and the Air National Guard. As a staffagency, the National Guard Bureau participates with the Army and Air staffsin developing and coordinating programs that directly affect the NationalGuard. As an operating agency, the National Guard Bureau formulates andadministers the programs for training, development and maintenance of theArmy National Guard and Air National Guard and acts as the channel ofcommunication between the Army, Air Force and the 54 states and territorieswhere National Guard units are located.