Guard Chief Praises New Homeland Defense Strategy
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 13, 2005 The chief of the National Guard Bureau praised the Defense Department's new Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support today.
Army Lt. Gen. Steven Blum said the strategy recognizes the "very significant role" DoD and the National Guard play, not only in homeland defense, but also in support for homeland security. He called the strategy, released June 30, an "excellent piece of work" that spells out for the first time the department's homeland defense mission and support to civil authorities.
The strategy outlines strategic goals and objectives and provides direction for DoD's activities in homeland defense that range from deterring and preventing attacks to protecting critical defense and civilian infrastructure to preparing for and responding to incidents.
It also maps out the National Guard's role in the event of a crisis in the homeland. "It recognizes... (that) you have to have the National Guard ready to respond in minutes and hours, not days and weeks, and that they would be the dominant and pre-eminent or primary DoD first responders," Blum said in an interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service.
The Guard's homeland defense missions include supporting Coast Guard patrols of sea and coastal areas, detecting and defending against air and missile attacks, protecting private infrastructure and responding to attacks involving weapons of mass destruction. In the event of an incident or crisis, DoD's and the nation's "reliance would be very heavy on the National Guard, both the Air Guard and Army Guard," Blum said.
The new strategy "has huge implications for this nation and how we will defend it in the future," the general said.
In a press release announcing the strategy, acting Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England called it "the next significant milestone" in reshaping DoD's approach to homeland defense. "It constitutes the department's vision for transforming homeland defense and civil support capabilities and will improve significantly the department's ability to counter threats of the 21st century," he said.