ARLINGTON, Va. — In response to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ effort to find efficiencies throughout the services, the National Guard is taking a hard look at how it operates.
Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, kicked off the Guard’s effort by releasing a report titled, “The National Guard: A Great Value for America,” which will guide efforts to improve efficiency at the bureau and push resources to the operational force.
In May, Gates called for a 2 to 3 percent reduction in overhead costs in the fiscal 2012 defense budget request, with the money saved being dedicated to force structure. McKinley said the National Guard plays an important role in achieving the secretary’s goals. The Guard adds value to America by supporting domestic missions and defending the nation’s interests overseas with our active duty counterparts, he said.
“While America’s military represents a balance between what this country needs to guarantee its security and what we can afford, the National Guard delivers an exceptional value in this security equation,” McKinley said.
In 2010, the Army National Guard has consumed less than 11 percent of the Army’s budget while providing almost 40 percent of the Army’s operating force, Guard officials said. The Air National Guard has operated on less than 7 percent of the Air Force’s budget during this fiscal year, and it currently comprises about one-third of the Air Force’s capability. “These same forces also stand ready to save lives and ease suffering at home because of our National Guard’s ‘dual mission’ nature,” McKinley said. “Whatever people, expertise and equipment we maintain as America’s operational reserve can also be used here on the homefront in a variety of missions that directly benefit American citizens.”
The value that the National Guard brings to the nation is undeniable, the general said. “As everyone in the Department of Defense continues to navigate this fiscally constrained environment, it is critical for defense planners and decision-makers to understand the great benefit that the National Guard brings as a dual-use military force,” McKinley said. “And rest assured that the National Guard is working to indentify further efficiencies that offer even greater value to America.”
After nearly 374 years of successfully meeting the nation’s needs, McKinley said, the National Guard intends to stay relevant for generations to come.
“As the Department of Defense continues to work innovative solutions to the changing fiscal and global security environments, it would be hard to imagine what an America without its National Guard would look like,” he said.
At home, the Guard’s expertise includes the air superiority mission, which is performed by the Air National Guard, response to natural disasters across the country and emerging missions, such as security support on the southwest border and oil cleanup efforts in the Gulf of Mexico, Guard officials said.
Overseas, the Guard’s presence is strongly felt as well. About three-quarters of today’s National Guard have deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom, Guard officials said. Almost 25 percent of the Guard’s current force has deployed more than once in support of these operations. Guardsmen are also serving in the Balkans, Guantanamo Bay and the Sinai.
“Together with the active components, we can fulfill critical overseas commitments that otherwise would simply be impossible to sustain,” McKinley said.
He said it also takes sacrifice from the Guard’s soldiers and airmen and their families and employers, who must endure the long separations of a combat deployment.
“Our value proposition, along with all we’re called upon to do at home and abroad to keep Americans safe, makes for one potent force to confront America’s enemies and hazards at home,” McKinley said. “I don’t think there’s ever been a better or more important time to be part of the Guard family, and I thank each family member from the bottom of my heart for all they do.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)