MILWAUKEE, Sept. 12, 2011 — Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, praised the National Guard at the 133rd General Conference of the National Guard Association of the United States.
“You are uniquely postured, both as a personification of what is right about America — namely, selfless service to country and community — and as a shining example of what we are, what we believe, and what we do in the United States military for the American people,” Winnefeld told the audience here last month. Winnefeld spoke of the tens of thousands of Guard members who have served in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere throughout the world.
“Our guardsmen do their duties overseas, too. They always have and always will,” the four-star admiral said.
Winnefeld saluted the exemplary service of five Army National Guard Special Forces soldiers, who recently earned the Croix de la Valeur Militaire, the French military award roughly equal to the Silver Star, for heroism.
The admiral noted that he is proud of his association with the National Guard.
“I want to assure you that I intend to continue building on my relationship with the Guard,” said Winnefeld, adding he’s a strong supporter and advocate of the Guard.
“You have transformed from a strategic reserve to one that also provides operational full-spectrum capabilities to our nation, and we’re grateful for this,” the admiral said, “So simply returning the reserve component, and especially the National Guard … to [a] strictly strategic reserve role is a nonstarter.”
Winnefeld said there will be tough choices ahead on force structure. He pledged to stay connected to reserve component leaders, and to highlight the importance of Guard and Reserve forces during his travels.
The admiral also asked the audience for assistance.
“You are the linchpin of maintaining the American people’s connections with the military,” Winnefeld said. “You live and work alongside our fellow Americans in communities. You are their aunts and uncles, friends and neighbors, their coaches and their teachers. You, as guardsmen, are uniquely postured in your communities to take the lead in maintaining and strengthening this dialogue.
“So, just as we need to hear from you on the strategic issues you face and how we can work together,” he continued, “they need to hear from you about who we are and what we do proudly each day, and every day, as members of our nation’s military.”
Winnefeld thanked Guard members and their families for what they do in their states and communities and he also saluted reserve component members’ overseas service.
“Thank you for truly living up to being all that is right about America,” he said.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)