Army, Air Guard at Full Strength, Directors Tell Congress
By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 4, 2009 The Army National Guard is over strength and the Air National Guard has met its target end strength for the first time since 2002, the directors told Congress yesterday.
“This is a new era for us,” said Army Lt. Gen. Clyde A. Vaughn, the director of the Army National Guard. “We’ve never been in this position with this kind of strength. This is the strongest Army Guard we’ve ever had.”
But recruiting and retention success, combined with budget cuts, mean some programs that have improved recruitment are being reduced. For example, many bonuses are being cut.
“I just hope we don’t let the air completely out of the tires on recruiting and retention,” Vaughn told the lawmakers. “I would ask that you watch that very closely.”
Vaughn and Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, director of the Air National Guard, testified before the military personnel subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee at a hearing on recruiting, retention and end strength.
Airmen and their families need to remain the Air Guard’s top focus, Wyatt said.
“We’re in a position for the first time to shape our force in a way it hasn’t been in years,” Vaughn said. “We’re all about readiness.”
The Air National Guard currently has 106,700 members; the Army Guard has 366,500.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, director of the Air National Guard, right, testifies before the House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel subcommittee in Washington, D.C., March 3, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Vaughn said Army Guard recruiting and retention could improve further by reducing “cross-leveling,” in which soldiers are brought in from outside units to boost the numbers in deploying units, by cutting the time it takes from swearing in a recruit to having the recruit fully trained, and by further improving the predictability of deployments.
Wyatt noted the Air Guard’s high retention rate and told the legislators that future success depends on strong recruiting and retention programs.
“Air National Guard recruiting and retention programs play a critical role in supporting today’s fight and how we posture our force for the future,” Wyatt said. The Air Guard’s 96.9 percent retention rate is the highest of all the services and components, he added.
(Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill serves at the National Guard Bureau.)