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Guard, Reserve Destined for Bigger Homeland Defense Roles

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2003 – The president's nominee to become DoD's chief liaison to the Department of Homeland Security told U.S. lawmakers during a recent confirmation hearing that he sees the Guard and Reserve assuming more homeland defense duties.

Paul McHale, former Pennsylvania congressman and Marine, met Jan. 30 with Senate Armed Services Committee members to discuss his nomination to become the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense.

In answering a question from Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, McHale said the Guard and Reserve would become more deeply engaged in homeland defense in the months to come. In fact, he said, DoD is conducting a review of future reserve component roles and missions.

Today's Guard provides an overseas warfighting capability that has to be retained, McHale said. But he also pointed to the projected increase in the number of Guard civil support teams -- now at 27 -- and continued Air Guard support of combat air patrol missions over the nation's skies.

"If anything, the Guard will in some ways be coming back to its roots to defend the nation domestically," he added. He later emphasized to senators the National Guard should be a "balanced" force, in the sense members are equally as trained and prepared for new, major roles in homeland defense as for potential overseas missions.

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