The National Guard’s country-wide plan to level out personnel numbers is being pushed back a year for Alaska’s Air National Guard. Instead of going into effect this October, the National Guard Bureau will push implementing the new changes to Sept. 30, 2025. That delay, Alaska’s congressional delegation says, will allow “the Air National Guard to complete a more comprehensive assessment of the impact the proposed changes will have on critical Alaska missions, and decide whether the proposed changes should occur at all.”

The change was announced on Friday, April 19. The National Guard’s plan, Program Element Code Leveling (sometimes referred to as “code leveling” or “PEC leveling”), would have cut 80 Active Guard and Reserve positions in the Alaska Air National Guard. ARG members of the Alaska ANG are essentially full-time active-duty personnel. Instead of making those cuts this year, the Alaska Air National Guard will use the extra time for a wider analysis of what PEC leveling would mean for operational readiness.

The National Guard’s other 53 units covering the other states and U.S. territories, are still set to complete cross leveling by Oct. 1. 

The Alaska ANG carries out a number of important missions, including handling urgent emergencies and playing a key role in defense strategy. Alaska ANG’s 2,400 members staff air defense missions under the purview of U.S. Northern Command, while crews also provide aerial refueling for U.S. military planes. Given harsh weather conditions and the remote nature of many communities, rescue operations are often done by air, and due to the risks are handled by the Air National Guard. There can often be several missions in one day. 

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The National Guard Bureau’s plan called for cutting 80 full-time active positions in the Alaska ANG, including several pilots and pararescuemen. Other jobs would be cut were more than a dozen of what are called “scope watchers,” the guardsmen who crew early warning systems. Task & Purpose reviewed an analysis made by the Alaska ANG, which said that the proposed cuts under the plan would lead to shortages as high as 50% on those missions.

The PEC leveling plan was heavily criticized both by state officials and Alaska’s three-member congressional delegation, citing national security concerns. Under the National Guard Bureau’s plans, the 80 AGR positions that would be lost would be replaced by 88 “dual-status technicians” with lower wages that the Alaska ANG said wouldn’t be able to meet the actual needs of those around-the-clock alert missions. Members of the Alaska ANG also voiced concerns over what the changes would mean for pay and benefits. The National Guard Bureau told Task & Purpose earlier this month that the proposed changes would not impact readiness. 

After the delay was announced, the state’s congressional delegation applauded the decision. In a joint statement all three members, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Mary Peltola all pointed to the important role the Alaska ANG has in public safety and emergency services for people in Alaska. 

“These cuts would have undermined not only our state’s security, but our national security as well,” Sen. Dan Sullivan said. 

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