ANG: A Short Story

The Air National Guard as we know it today -- a separate reserve component of the United States Air Force -- was a product of the politics of postwar planning and interservice rivalry during World War II. The men who planned and maneuvered for an independent postwar Air Force during World War II didn't place much faith in the reserves, especially the state-dominated National Guard.

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History

The 168th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) exemplifies the spirit of Total Force teamwork. Nowhere is daily cooperation between the active and reserve components more evident than in the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), Alaska, and the 168 ARW. The 168 ARW transfers more fuel than any other Air National Guard (ANG) tanker wing, because nearly all receivers are active duty aircraft, many of which are on operational missions. The 168 ARW is the only Arctic region refueling unit for all of PACAF, and maintains a substantial number of personnel on active duty and civilian technician status in order to meet its daily operational requirements. The 168 ARW completed its R-model conversion in 1995, and in 2000 they completed a major flight deck upgrade called "Pacer CRAG" - with the CRAG standing for Compass, Radar, and GPS (Guidance Positioning System).

The mission of the 168 ARW is to train and equip KC-135R combat crews to provide air refueling in support of PACAF Operations Plans (OPLANS) and worldwide refueling taskings. Our peacetime mission provides air refueling training and exercise support for all 11th Air Force AWACS and fighter aircraft, as well as alert tankers and crews to support Alaska NORAD Region (ANR) plans and Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed refueling requirements. In 2000, we became mobility-tasked, which has been a true opportunity for growth and learning. Besides our federally directed missions, as a unit of the Alaska National Guard, the 168 ARW is an asset of the Governor of Alaska and as such, the Governor can direct the unit to respond to emergencies declared or missions required within the State.

168 ARW 90's

From a modest beginning in 1986, the unit has blossomed into Wing status and all the accouterments of a full Air Refueling Wing. The 168 ARW has command and control over thirteen subordinate assigned units whose missions include all aircraft maintenance for the PACAF-gained tankers, providing financial, transportation, contracting, and base supply resources, communications, data processing and visual information functions, organizational security, and disaster preparedness and air base operability. They also contain all personnel activities such as training, equal employment opportunity and recruiting, and limited diagnostic and therapeutic service in general medicine, flight medicine, bioenvironmental, environmental, and dental services.

Subordinate assigned units include four groups, the 168th Operations Group (OG), the 168th Maintenance Group (MXG), the 168th Mission Support Group (MSG), and the 168th Medical Group (MDG). The 168 OG includes the 168th Air Refueling Squadron (ARS) and the 168th Operations Support Flight (OSF), the 168 MXG includes the 168th Maintenance Squadron (MXS), the 168th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS), and the 168th Maintenance Operations Flight (MOF). Finally, the 168 MSG includes the 168th Security Forces Squadron (SFS), the 168th Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS), the 168th Mission Support Flight (MSF), and the 168th Communications Flight (CF).

Because of Alaska's strategic location with regard to national defense, the mission and importance of the 168 ARW and the Alaska Air National Guard should continue to increase in the coming years. The 168 ARW has a remarkably broad range of responsibilities that it fulfills in an exemplary manner, providing an outstanding example for all other Air National Guard units. With a proven capacity to perform, we are ready to face the challenges of the future and are confident of our ability to accomplish any assigned mission.

In January 1994, January 1996, and January 2004, the 168 ARW received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.

In April 1996 and again in 1997, the 168 ARW won one of the five annual Distinguished Flying Unit Plaques sponsored by the National Guard Association of the Untied States.

Also in 1997, they earned the Curtis N. "Rusty" Metcalf Trophy, for the tactical/strategic airlift or air refueling flying unit demonstrating the highest standards of mission accomplishment over a sustained period each year.

The 168th Air Refueling Wing is the embodiment of teamwork in the new, streamlined American military.