Senators Salute National Guard’s Value
By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
National Guard Bureau
WASHINGTON, Mar. 18, 2010 U.S. senators applauded the National Guard’s domestic and overseas contributions at a Capitol Hill breakfast today.
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy and Missouri Sen. Christopher S. Bond co-hosted the 2010 Senate National Guard Caucus Breakfast, which also included newly elected Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, a current Army Guard lieutenant colonel, who joked that he needs to get a haircut before he attends his monthly drill with the Massachusetts National Guard this weekend.
“The National Guard is a tremendous instrument for smart power,” Bond said.
Smart power refers to the use of both soft and hard power.
“We must use what has been called smart power – the full range of tools at our disposal – diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal and cultural – picking the right tool, or combination of tools, for each situation,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at her 2009 confirmation hearing.
Caucus members heard from Guard officials about the work of National Guard agribusiness development teams in Afghanistan. The teams combine Guard members’ civilian-acquired skills with their military training to help Afghans improve agricultural practices.
“To defeat the insurgents – the radical extremists who want to destroy us and our way of life – we have not only to provide military force, … but we need to bring along the ability to help countries like Afghanistan develop a good economy where young people can get a profitable job and not have to rely on getting $25 from some terrorist to plant [a roadside bomb],” Bond said. “Smart power is beginning to work.”
Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, director of the Air National Guard, told senators about his pride in the Air Guard’s contributions to hard power.
The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan is commanded by Air Force Brig. Gen. Guy M. Walsh, a Maryland National Guard member. He is the first Air National Guard officer to command a wing during combat.
Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter, acting director of the Army National Guard, gave senators and their staffs a snapshot of Guard operations within the last month.
The National Guard stood by for a possible tsunami in Hawaii after the Chilean earthquake. Guard members continue to help Haitians in the wake of their earthquake, and the Guard is responding to flood threats in North Dakota and Minnesota. More than 53,400 Guard members are currently deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, the Sinai Desert and elsewhere.
Guard members also are furthering state partnerships with 63 countries worldwide. They are running counter-drug operations and pressing toward graduating the 100,000th high school dropout through the Youth ChalleNGe Program that offers a second chance at a better life.
“There’s little the National Guard cannot achieve, and we’re so proud of what it does nationwide,” Bond said. When the United States went after terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Guard was there, he added, as it was during the response to Hurricane Katrina and various floods, earthquakes, fires and other natural disasters.
Leahy said Guard members deserve the best. He urged communities where deployed Guard members live to pitch in with yard work, babysitting and other help for families left behind. “If you know a family member of a National Guard member, offer to help,” he said.
“With the families behind the Guardsmen, we can do anything, and will do anything,” Brown added.