120th Fighter Wing [120th FW]
The Quadrennial Defense Review of 1997 provided guidance for the Air National Guard to reduce the number of existing air defense units. The 120th FW changed from an air defense to a general purpose mission was released in the Force Structure Program Directive dated 10 February 1998. As a result, 120th FW pilots are required to maintain annual training proficiencies in certain air-to-ground taskings.
The 120th FW needs an air-to-ground training site closer to the base, where travel time is reduced and pilots can make the most efficient use of the training time they have. Currently, the majority of this training occurs at the Utah Test and Training Range, with occasional use of Saylor Creek Range in Idaho when available. While the optimal one-way distance from the unit to a training range is approximately 150 nautical miles or less, the distances to these ranges are 380 nautical miles and 320 nautical miles, respectively. Regular 120 th FW use of Saylor Creek Range is not possible due to a limit on total missions conducted at the range. Also, obtaining training time at both of these locations can be problematic due to scheduling conflicts and weather conditions. Consequently, the 120 th FW needs a "local" training range to effectively meet air-to-ground training requirements in the interest of national defense.
In January 1968, President Johnson mobilized naval and air reservists following the North Korean seizure of the USS Pueblo. More reservists were called into federal service following the February 1968 Tet offensive in Vietnam. Altogether, approximately 10,600 Air Guardsmen were called into federal service in 1968. Although most of the reservists were used to strengthen America's depleted strategic reserve force, four ANG fighter squadrons were dispatched to Vietnam. On 3 May, F-100s from the 120th Tactical Fighter Squadron (Colorado) arrived at Phan Rang Air Base. By 1 June, all of the 120th's pilots were flying combat missions.
In March of 2000, Air Force officials announced proposed changes in force structure affecting the locations of people, aircraft and organizations across the United States. These changes result from mission changes, adjustments for efficiency, congressional directives and implementation of the expeditionary aerospace force concept.
As part of these changes, the 120th FW was scheduled to lose 17 civilian and four drill positions while upgrading its 15 aircraft from the F-16A/B model to the F-16C/D model.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Great Falls International Airport Air Guard Station, MT. It would distribute the 120th Fighter Wing's F-16s to the 187th Fighter Wing, Dannelly Field Air Guard Station, AL (three aircraft); the 132d Fighter Wing, Des Moines International Airport Air Guard Station, IA (three aircraft); and retire (nine aircraft). The wing's expeditionary combat support (ECS) elements would remain in place. DoD recommended this realignment because Great Falls (117) ranked low in military value. The reduction in F-16 force structure and the need to align common versions of the F-16 at the same bases argued for realigning F-16s out of Great Falls. The F-16s would realign to Dannelly (60) and Des Moines (137). Although Des Moines was somewhat lower in military value ranking that Great Falls, the realignment to Des Moines would create a more effective unit of 18 aircraft. The wing's ECS would remain in place to support the Air Expeditionary Force and to retain trained, experienced Air National Guard personnel.
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