Commander’s Corner: ANG 150th Fighter Wing – With a single mission for 60 years

  • Published
  • By Col. John D. Bledsoe Jr.
  • NM Air National Guard, 150th Fighter Wing Commander
The 150th Fighter Wing, New Mexico Air National Guard, is a Total Force partner here and has been so for the last 60 years. The 150th started out in P-51's in 1947, and has progressed to F-16C+ Block 30s. Our mission has, remarkably, always been in single seat, single-engine fighters. The 150th Fighter Wing is now uniquely positioned to proceed into the future as a model for U.S. Air Force/Air National Guard associate wing status. I will detail why this is and why the 150th is a truly unique resource for Kirtland and the United States, but first, a little background information on who we are and what we do.

The 150th has about 950 members, of which some 290 are full-time guardsmen and women. Our mission is to support Governor Bill Richardson through the Adjutant General of New Mexico, Brig. Gen. Kenny C. Montoya. Our federal mission is to be prepared to support the Air Force in case we are federalized by the president. We are currently 15 Primary Aircraft Authorized and will become 18 PAA within the month. We will also participate with the 49th Fighter Wing at Holloman AFB in a "classic associate" wing with a number of our personnel participating in the F-22A Raptor standup.

Our guardsmen and women are very active in the deployment arena. We support the Air Expeditionary Force and regularly rotate into theater with both our aviation package supporting our troops on the ground and our Expeditionary Combat Support package that fills a variety of support roles. You can be proud of your 150th Fighter Wing; since the inception of the War on Terror, our wing has deployed no less than six times, plus a myriad of examples of individuals that volunteered for opportunities in theater. Our guardsmen and women are an integral part of our nation's War on Terror and also serve our state and other states in times of crisis. Some 350 of our members deployed to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina for several weeks providing essential services to that devastated community.

No other ANG fighter unit has the advantages we enjoy here. Department of Defense rankings show Kirtland the No. 1 ANG location in the nation for fighter aircraft. The DOD considered criteria such as weather, proximity to training areas, airspace and ranges, population encroachment on the traffic patterns, et cetera, for the Base Realignment and Closure process. Our airspace is characterized by having low population density underlying it and outstanding size. Eastern, Midwestern and even some Western units can only dream of this type of resource. This data, along with the fact that Cannon AFB's 27th Fighter Wing will be transitioning to an Air Force special operations wing shortly, points to the fact that the 150th will be in a position to have access to outstanding airspace that future fighter aircraft will need to train. Additionally, there are five air-to-ground ranges within easy flying distance of our fighters to train. Live bombs and missiles can be flown from Kirtland and dropped on two of those local ranges.

We can house and provide for active duty Airmen here if we were chosen to be an "active associate wing." This is the unfolding paradigm that the Air Force wants to embrace when it comes to basing fifth generation fighter planes. When you look at the entire picture, your New Mexico Air National Guard's 150th Fighter Wing is uniquely positioned to effectively fly fighters and support our nation and state's missions well into the 21st century.