USA — McKinley Reviews National Guard’s Contribution

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)

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