Article Display

British officer participates in Guard program

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- Despite the Revolutionary War, the British and American militaries have been staunch allies for years.
From the world wars of the early-to-mid 1900s to the Cold War and the current war on terror, American military members and their British counterparts have honorably served side by side, standing up to tyranny around the world.
Recently an Arkansas Air National Guard officer and a Royal Auxiliary Air Force warrant officer participated in an exchange officer program to help further cement the relationship between the two countries air reserve forces.
For Air Guard Maj. Dom Sarnataro, a 154th Training Squadron pilot, the National Guard Bureau program was a great opportunity to learn first-hand about one of America's premier allies.
He was one of two Air Guard officers chosen to participate in the program.
The major spent his first week in England in briefings, explaining to his hosts how the Air National Guard fits into the U.S. Air Force's role of defending the nation. More specifically, he explained how the Air Guard works for a governor of a state and can be federalized to work for the president during a national emergency.
He also received briefings about how the RAF Auxiliary fits into England's defense role. His second week was spent taking in cultural events around the country to get a better feel for society and local issues that affect those who call England home.
The major visited RAF Brize Norton Sept. 2-16, which is near Oxford. Warrant Officer Matt Dillon, a movements specialist, visited here Sept. 17-30. The warrant officer belongs to the RAF Auxiliary's 4624 Movements Squadron.
Movements squadrons are similar to Air Force aerial port squadrons in that they prepare cargo for shipment, manage hazardous material paperwork and conduct load planning, but they don't rig cargo for airdrop.
Culturally, Warrant Officer Dillon said he made time to visit Memphis' Beale Street, the Ozark Mountains and Greers Ferry Lake.
"I think it's great; it really is," he said. "They call it the Natural State, of course there's a bit of everything here, isn't there?"
During his visit, he met with the 189th Airlift Wing's senior leaders, toured the wing's aerial port flight, flew on a night sortie and watched an airdrop mission.
Despite being brothers in arms, the major and the warrant officer noted some differences in the way their countries manage their reserve forces.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two country's reserve forces is RAF Auxiliary members don't receive a pension after they retire from service. Essentially, they work for their pay, but there is no retirement when they finally hang up their uniform at the end of their career. In the Air National Guard member receives pay for duty performed and a retirement check at age 60 based on points accrued over the years in uniform.
Another difference is RAF Auxiliary members can only be called to duty for two weeks at a time, according to British law.
Air Guard members can be called to state active duty at the governor's request for an unlimited amount of time or to federal active duty at the president's request for up to two years per mobilization.
Additionally, RAF Auxiliary members don't enjoy the same level of support from their civilian employers that Reserve members in America enjoy.
Because their military career is seen as a hobby by some employers in England, RAF Auxiliary members have to be careful how often they put on their uniform for a tour of duty, Warrant Officer Dillon said.
Here in the United States, reserve component members enjoy the support of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve organization and several laws that are aimed at protecting a Guardsman's or Reservist's civilian employment rights.