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Guard Needs Full Spectrum of Capabilities, General Says

By Army Staff Sgt. S. Patrick McCollum
Special to American Forces Press Service

BALTIMORE, March 3, 2009 – Living up to the National Guard’s motto of “Always Ready, Always There” requires a full spectrum of capabilities, a senior National Guard official told an audience at the Domestic Operations Conference here today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Maj. Gen. Peter M. Aylward, director of the National Guard Bureau Joint Staff, speaks to conferees at the NGB Domestic Operations Conference, March 3, 2009, in Baltimore. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. S. Patrick McCollum

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

“How do you take things that work in our community and make them sustaining programs of record? That’s the challenge,” said Army Maj. Gen. Peter M. Aylward, director of the National Guard Bureau Joint Staff.

In addition to its traditional role responding to natural disasters, the Guard must be flexible enough to respond to threats such as weapons of mass destruction. And being flexible, he added, is key to fighting an enemy that fights unconventionally.

“The rules we use are written in black and white,” Aylward said. “Our adversaries are not governed by those black-and-white rules. They hide in shades of gray.”

He added that the Guard’s citizen-soldiers and –airmen are uniquely suited for any mission.

Depending on the threat, he said, Guard members can ratchet up their readiness from traditional duty to being called up by their state and, if necessary, being federally activated.

Guard members from California, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana and Texas shared their experiences during recent state call-ups with their counterparts at the conference.

“The people of this nation depend on the Guard to help them, no matter what,” said Army Maj. Gen. Stephen F. Villacorta, the U.S. Northern Command liaison to the chief of the National Guard Bureau. Northcom’s main area of responsibility, he said, is the continental United States, and coordination with state and local authorities as well as the National Guard is essential for success.

“This coordination occurs every day,” he said, “and with respect to Northcom, National Guard Bureau and the states, has significantly increased over the past two years.”

Villacorta said this partnership will continue to grow. “Northcom is seeking to expand its partnership with NGB and the states to make our job easier when it comes time to respond to an event,” he said.

Air Force Maj. Gen. William H. Etter, director of domestic operations for the National Guard Bureau, stressed the workshop aspect of the conference.

“You go to a conference and people speak at you, and they do that again and again and again,” he said. “At a workshop, there is constant dialogue, and you solve problems.”

(Army Staff Sgt. S. Patrick McCollum serves at the National Guard Bureau.)

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