Guard Leaders Discuss Successes, Challenges
By Air Force Master Sgt. Greg Rudl
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2009 Having enough equipment for domestic response missions, providing support services to warriors and families, and forging international partnerships were just a few of the topics discussed here yesterday by leaders of the National Guard’s Army and Air Force components during a panel hosted by the Reserve Officers Association.
Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter, special assistant to the director of the Army National Guard, touted the effectiveness of the Guard’s agriculture development teams in Afghanistan. He also said the Army Guard’s equipment shortfall is being addressed.
“The governors looked to the National Guard for support in their domestic missions, … and in some cases they were handicapped, because they didn’t have the equipment necessary to respond,” he said. “That, along with transformation, generated an initiative to equip the National Guard.”
Almost $24 billion of equipment has been appropriated for the Army Guard since 2003, with another $5 billion expected this year, Carpenter said. He added that the Army Guard now is doing a better job than it used to in tracking equipment from acquisition to delivery.
Air Force Maj. Gen Emmett R. Titshaw Jr., who served until recently as acting director of the Air National Guard, talked about the Air Guard’s three enduring priorities: winning the war on terrorism and defending the home front, developing adaptable citizen-airmen, and understanding the transition from a platform-based organization to one based on capabilities.
More than 11,000 Air National Guard members are mobilized, Titshaw said, and of those, 8,700 volunteered for duty. The Air Guard must maintain that citizen-warrior spirit of volunteerism, he said.
Titshaw also addressed the Air Guard’s recapitalization needs. “The procurement holiday of the ’90s has created the dynamic that we are seeing [today],” he said.
“In 2005, the National Guard had 19 F-16 units. In 2018, we’ll have four,” Titshaw said. “We’ll have to find a way to address that. Part of the answer is that we’ll have to transition from platform-centric organization to capabilities-based organizations.”
In these tough budgetary times, the military’s reserve components offer great value, the general said, and he told the audience to seize the opportunity.
“We can deliver combat capability for this nation,” he said, “and we can do it in a cost-effective manner.”
Air Force Maj. Gen Kelly K. McKeague, chief of staff of the National Guard Bureau, said the Commission on the National Guard and Reserve recognized the “great operational force that the Guard and Reserve offers.”
He noted that about 10,000 Guard members on domestic-response duty, many of them helping people in Kentucky, Missouri and Arkansas, cope with the effects of a massive ice storm.
The Guard’s 54 joint-force headquarters in states and territories will provide support services to help Guard members and their families cope with deployments, McKeague said.
“Because our reservists are dispersed and often far away from a [Department of Veterans Affairs] facility or an active-duty installation, … our colleagues up here all share a common vision” that they should have access to all the warrior and family care programs that their active-duty counterparts receive at military installations in large cities, he said.
(Air Force Master Sgt. Greg Rudl serves at the National Guard Bureau.)