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Getting to know your UTANG State Headquarters

SALT LAKE CITY -- As an orphaned member of the 101st Information Operations Flight due to the mission being moved to Florida and the unit shutting down, I was recently notified that I would be transferred to State Headquarters as my new home in the Utah Air National Guard.

The State Headquarters... that's in Draper, right?

Wrong.

While working 11 years "behind the wire" in the 101st I didn't get out much and figured that was the cause for my ignorance, but the more I inquired about the location of my new unit and our mission, the more I realized how little I knew about State Headquarters, and that I wasn't the only one.

It turns out the Utah Air National Guard has a State Headquarters right here at the Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base, located in building 210, just up the stairs from security forces.

In January of 2011, Department of Defense Directive 5105.83 established a National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters (JFHQ) for each of the 54 states and territories. The Utah Air National Guard State Headquarters is a small but important part of the larger Utah National Guard JFHQ located in Draper.

The purpose of these new JFHQs is to improve communication and coordination between our state's National Guard forces and our federal and state partners to ensure a unity of effort as we fulfill both our federal and state missions. As the United States military continues to evolve and operate in a more integrated, joint environment, it's critical that we're all on the same page when it comes to coordinating our efforts to achieve mission success.

Our UTANG State HQ serves as a conduit of information to coordinate planning, training, contingency plans, and exercises as appropriate through the JFHQ. The UTANG State HQ needs to understand the UTANG resources available, provide situational awareness to the JFHQ, and coordinate planning, training, and execution of National Guard homeland defense, defense support to civil authorities, and other domestic emergency missions within the United States.

The UTANG State HQ is made up of the Assistant Adjutant General for Air, currently Brig. Gen. David Fountain, and the general's staff, which include, among other positions, a staff judge advocate, flight surgeon, public affairs officer, inspector general, and director of staff. In addition, Brig. Gen. Kenneth Gammon is a key cog in the UTANG State HQ as the Director of Joint Staff at JFHQ, and serves as the bridge between the Air Guard and Army Guard within the state.

The UTANG State HQ also includes Air Staff elements from A-1 through A-8; each playing a unique but vital role within the organization.

The A-1, Manpower and Personnel, is responsible for executing manpower and personnel programs in support of UTANG federal, state and domestic operations missions.

The A-2, Intelligence, is responsible for providing intelligence assessments, estimates, and other intelligence products in support of UTANG leadership decision making processes.

The A-3, Operations, coordinates planning and training necessary to provide a mission ready A-Staff.

The A-4, Logistics, provides logistics assessments and capabilities in support of UTANG federal, state, and domestic operations missions.

The A-5/7, Plans & Policy/Training & Exercises, provide planning and training by conducting UTANG exercises and coordinating UTANG participation in Utah JFHQ exercises.

The A-6, Communications & Computers, serves as the primary advisor to the Assistant Adjutant General for Air on all communication and IT systems and management.

The A-8, Strategic Plans/Future Missions, is responsible for producing and maintaining plans and policy documents and systems in support of the UTANG commander's vision for future growth and/or transformation of UTANG organizations and missions to meet future requirements.

Most of the positions within the UTANG State Headquarters are filled with senior personnel who have more than 20 years of military service, a broad knowledge base, and extensive experience from a variety of career fields.

Chief Master Sgt. Michael Edwards, UTANG HQ command chief, sums up the role of the organization by explaining that headquarters professionals are "the caretakers of the Utah Air National Guard." He said it is a job he takes to heart because of its impact on every member of the Guard.

"It is our job to ensure the Utah Air National Guard is prepared to meet the current and future demands of federal and state missions with the required personnel, equipment, training, and capabilities to accomplish those missions," said Edwards. "In an ever-changing world our missions will likely change and we need to be prepared to excel in such an environment."