Guard Should Remain an Operational Reserve, Leaders Say

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2011 — As part of the Total Force, the Nation­al Guard has suc­cess­ful­ly trans­formed into an oper­a­tional force and must not be put back on the shelf in a strate­gic reserve sta­tus, the chief of the Nation­al Guard Bureau said here last week.
“We must con­tin­ue to be uti­lized as part of the oper­a­tional force … and must main­tain readi­ness and con­tin­ue to be a part of the nation­al secu­ri­ty frame­work,” Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKin­ley said dur­ing his tes­ti­mo­ny before the House Appro­pri­a­tions Sub­com­mit­tee on Defense, March 30.

McKin­ley, along with Air Force Lt. Gen. Har­ry M. Wyatt III, direc­tor of the Air Nation­al Guard; Army Maj. Gen. Ray­mond W. Car­pen­ter, act­ing direc­tor of the Army Nation­al Guard; and Army Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve and com­mand­ing gen­er­al, U.S. Army Reserve; spoke about the impor­tant roles the Nation­al Guard and reserve have per­formed dur­ing the last decade. 

McKin­ley said remain­ing a ful­ly oper­a­tional force relies on the ser­vice com­po­nents’ will­ing­ness to keep the Air and Army Nation­al Guard operational. 

“I believe very strong­ly that [Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen.] Nor­ton Schwartz and [Chief of Staff of the Army Gen.] George Casey believe that access and avail­abil­i­ty to call on the Guard is vital to their future, espe­cial­ly in an era of per­sis­tent con­flict,” he said. 

“From a strate­gic van­tage point, we in the Nation­al Guard believe that care must be tak­en not to break this mag­nif­i­cent force that has been there when need­ed these last 10 years,” McKin­ley said. 

“We have proven that this reserve com­po­nent can be an oper­a­tional force. We have demon­strat­ed the capa­bil­i­ties,” Stultz said. “We have demon­strat­ed the fact that we are a good return on investment.” 

That return on invest­ment, he added, can be seen in all reserve com­po­nent branches. 

“We have cre­at­ed an Army that has to have an oper­a­tional reserve,” Stultz said. “Just in raw num­bers, 75 per­cent of your engi­neer­ing capa­bil­i­ties … 80 per­cent of your logis­tics capa­bil­i­ty … 75 per­cent of your med­ical capa­bil­i­ty … and 85 of your civ­il affairs capa­bil­i­ty, which is in high demand, is in the reserve or Guard.” 

Wyatt said the Air Guard pro­vides a high per­cent­age of Air Force mis­sion capa­bil­i­ty rel­a­tive to the total bud­get the Air Force pro­vides to the Air Guard. 

“The Air Nation­al Guard pro­vides about 34 per­cent of the total capa­bil­i­ty of the Air Force on about 7 per­cent of the bud­get,” Wyatt said. “That’s prob­a­bly the most cost-effec­tive arm of the Air Force that we have.” 

Wyatt said one of the biggest issues the Air Nation­al Guard faces in remain­ing a rel­e­vant oper­a­tional force is the recap­i­tal­iza­tion of old­er aircraft. 

“That’s the same prob­lem that the Unit­ed States Air Force has,” he said. “Our goal is to con­tin­ue to be an equal part­ner through the Air Force’s recap­i­tal­iza­tion and mod­ern­iza­tion process. 

“The prop­er way to do that when recap­i­tal­iz­ing the Air Force, Wyatt con­tin­ued, “is to embark upon recap­i­tal­iz­ing the Air Nation­al Guard at the same time that we do our active com­po­nent pro­por­tion­ate­ly and bal­anced across all three of the com­po­nents so that the Air Nation­al Guard can remain rel­e­vant and remain an oper­a­tional force.” 

To pre­pare for the future, the Air Nation­al Guard must build upon the lessons of the past, he said. 

“Today’s Air Nation­al Guard inte­grates seam­less­ly into the Air Force glob­al oper­a­tions because we have the same equip­ment with sim­i­lar capa­bil­i­ties and Air Guard air­men main­tain the same stan­dards of train­ing and edu­ca­tion as our active duty broth­ers and sis­ters,” Wyatt said. 

“With con­tin­ued sup­port from Con­gress,” he added, “we will con­tin­ue to improve and enhance our abil­i­ty to sup­port civ­il author­i­ties through pru­dent invest­ments and dual-use capabilities.” 

McKin­ley broke down some of the fis­cal year 2012 require­ments the Guard is look­ing for. 

“Over­all, we can say that the bud­get request for fis­cal year 2012 meets the crit­i­cal needs of the Army and the Air Nation­al Guard in the era of per­sis­tent con­flict over­seas and on-going threats to Amer­i­can lives and prop­er­ty here in the home­land,” he said. 

“As the FY12 bud­get was devel­oped,” McKin­ley added, “we worked close­ly with [the Office of the Sec­re­tary of Defense] to ensure ade­quate fund­ing for the entire [Chem­i­cal, Bio­log­i­cal, Radi­o­log­i­cal, Nuclear and high-yield Explo­sives] enter­prise, includ­ing stand­ing up the remain­ing eight new Home­land Response Forces.” 

Car­pen­ter said sol­dier resilien­cy also is vital to the con­tin­u­a­tion of the oper­a­tional force and the Army Nation­al Guard looks to achieve this through com­pre­hen­sive sol­dier men­tal health ini­tia­tives and sol­dier and fam­i­ly out­reach programs. 

Car­pen­ter empha­sized the impor­tance of keep­ing the Guard and Reserve operational. 

“Gen­er­al Casey has made the state­ments, ‘We’ve served togeth­er, we’ve bled togeth­er and we can’t go back’,” Car­pen­ter said. “We have to be ready, we can­not sit back and wait for some­thing and then respond, so from that stand­point the oper­a­tional Reserve is crit­i­cal for this nation.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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