On Guard

By John Reed / February 5, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Air National Guard finally got its new boss on Tuesday when Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and National Guard Bureau Director Gen. Craig McKinley pinned three stars on Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt during a Pentagon ceremony marking Wyatt's promotion to director of the ANG.

Wyatt succeeds McKinley, who was selected to be the first four-star director of the National Guard Bureau last year. McKinley's -- now Wyatt's -- deputy, Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw, served as acting director of the Air Guard following McKinley's promotion in December.

Wyatt takes the reins of the Air Guard as it faces dramatic reductions to its fighter fleet. Many of the Guard's 386 Block 25/30/32 F-16s will reach the end of their service lives as soon as 2016, while their replacement, the F-35 Lightning II, continues to suffer delays. This has left ANG leaders scrambling to find alternate missions for numerous flying units, Titshaw told an audience at the Reserve Officers Association Mid Winter Conference in Washington on Tuesday.

Time will tell if Wyatt is as outspoken as his predecessor about the need to recapitalize the ANG fleet. McKinley frequently told congress that the Air Guard was facing a fighter gap that would hurt its ability to perform the Operation Noble Eagle fighter patrols that defend stateside airspace against attack.

Wyatt was previously the adjutant general of the Oklahoma National Guard. The career fighter pilot has flown everything from F-100 Super Sabres to F-16 Vipers.