began extensive training and humanitarian support missions in Central America that first
started with an aggressive road and bridge construction program in Panama.
The formal debut of the Total Force Policy allowed the Air Force and the ANG to
capitalize on progress already made under the leadership of Maj. Gen. Winston P. Wilson
in earlier years. The Runway Alert and Creek Party programs of the 1950s and 1960s
were already significant Total Force successes. Increasingly, ANG interceptors became
involved in the defense of the American homeland and other strategic points. Starting in
1978, ANG fighters had deployed to Panama to defend the Canal Zone as part of
Operation Coronet Cove. Another example of Air Force-Air Guard cooperation occurred
in Latin America where ANG and Air Force Reserve C-130s provided theater airlift
support to the U.S. Southern Command. In the 1980s, the Air Guard acquired C-5 and
C-141 heavy transports and became an integral part of Air Force plans to achieve and
sustain a rapid buildup of military forces in the world’s potential trouble spots.
Throughout the period, the ANG proactively adjusted its force structure to provide the
Air Force a more balanced mix of combat and support units.
The Persian Gulf War was the ultimate test of the Total Force Policy’s efficacy
and demonstrated the huge increases in National Guard readiness that had occurred since
the Vietnam War. By any standard, the mobilization and deployment was the most rapid
and effective in the Guard’s history. Early ANG volunteers helped the Air Force to
establish an unprecedented airlift and refueling air bridge between the United States and
Saudi Arabia. When war finally came in January 1991, a balanced force of ANG units
either participated in or supported the air campaign. Similarly, the ARNG mobilized a
balanced force of combat, combat support, and combat service support units that served