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Fundamental to Military Tradition: America, Militia Nation
Remarks delivered by Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, Air Force chief of staff, National Guard Association of the United States Convention, Cleveland, Thursday, September 07, 1995

It's a real pleasure for me -- both personally and professionally -- to be able to join you here for this 117th General Conference of the National Guard Association of the United States.

I'll tell you that your conference theme is right on target -- that is, "The National Guard, Protecting America -- Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow." There's a lot to be thought about in that theme.

Our dedicated citizen soldiers continue to make an important contribution to the defense of this great nation, and you have, in my view, a tremendous heritage to build upon. This association has an impressive record of promoting a strong, well-equipped and well-trained National Guard for the nation. I congratulate you for continuing the proud tradition of your predecessors who persuaded Congress to federalize the National Guard some 92 years ago.

When John France invited me here today, it generated a question in my mind as to how I should present my remarks. Should I appear here as Ron Fogleman, chief of staff of the United States Air Force, or Ron Fogleman, student of history, fellow traveler, former Air Reserve Personnel Center staff officer and a fellow practitioner of the profession of arms? Upon reflection, the answer came back loud and clear -- I'll do it in the latter role.

Based on that, I ... decided not to talk about the state of the Air Force or our modernization programs. Instead, I thought I would share some personal thoughts and experiences that I've had with the Guard and with the Reserve. I'll briefly discuss what I think is America's return to the militia nation concept, touch upon some challenges that confront us and describe the Guard's important role in helping us to address those challenges.

In the course of my presentation, I will share some words of the great giants of American philosophy, people like Casey Stengel, Woody Allen and Yogi Berra.

But before that, my personal thoughts and experiences have really been shaped by my own study of American history, my exposure to guardsmen and reservists in Southeast Asia and in the intervening years, and my tour at the Air Reserve Personnel Center. Particularly, my association with a 265 [statutory tour] officer by the name of Col. Joe T. Pound, who was the vice commander of ARPC when I was assigned there over 20 years ago.

During my first tour in Vietnam, 1968 and '69, I flew F-100s at Bien Hoa and Phu Cat, and then after extending, I went back to Bien Hoa. My tour during that period overlapped with that of the Air National Guard F-100 types who were in Southeast Asia from Denver, from Sioux City [Iowa], from Albuquerque [N.M.], from Niagara [Falls, N.Y.] and from Washington, D.C.

During the same period of time, there was a Reserve outfit over there consisting of AC-119G gunship crews from the 71st Air Commando Squadron. They were all comrades in arms. The thing that impressed me about these guardsmen and these reservists was the fact that they were thoroughly professional. They were accomplished aviators and ground crews. And they were leaders. I came to greatly appreciate their skill and the sacrifices they made in serving their nation.

In fact, I worked for a guardsman by the name of Maj. Clyde Seiler who was the commander of the Misty Fast FAC [forward air controller] operation in 1968 and '69. After leaving Misty, Clyde was killed in action -- a guardsman who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Again in 1973, at the close of my second tour in Southeast Asia, during which I flew F-4s at Udorn, I called back to the Military Personnel Center, fully expecting that they had some wonderful fighter assignment for me, and I asked them, OK, where am I going?

As personnel people are prone to do, they were very excited about wanting to tell me about what a good deal I was about to get. They said, Great news. You're going to go to the Air Force Finance Center.

I said, perhaps more colorfully than this, You've got to be kidding me! There's got to be a mistake. Take a look at this. Even my wife doesn't allow me to have a checkbook. There's got to be a problem here."

So this personnel guy had to admit that it really didn't make much sense on the surface, so you could almost hear the computers whirring and the pages flipping in the background as he went to check it out. And back he came with the answer. He said, You're right. I've got some great news. You're not going to the Air Force Finance Center. You're going to the Air Reserve Personnel Center as the chief of rated officer career planning.

He said, The reason I got it confused is that they're both located in a warehouse at 4800 North York St. in Denver, so they have the same address.

Well, my response was still one of, You've got to be kidding me. But the bottom line was, after objecting to this and fighting it as hard as I could, I was told that I should go to the Air Reserve Personnel Center and do my duty. And I've got to tell you, it turned out to be one of the most professionally beneficial assignments of my career. That was because of a couple of things.

First, much of that is in large measure due to some actions that Col. Joe T. Pound took. He was an extraordinary man. He had commanded the AC-119 outfit at Lockbourne ANGB [Air National Guard Base, Ohio], which is now Rickenbacker, when it was mobilized to go to Southeast Asia in 1968. If you remember -- and many of you don't -- but for those of you who were around in those days, you ll remember 1968 was the height of the anti-war movement in the United States. Any Guard or Reserve unit facing a call-up had to think about the specter of how the people in the unit would respond.

There was great concern over what percentage of the troops would respond to the mobilization call, what percentage would ask for waivers, etc. Col. Pound used a very unorthodox method to meet this challenge. He recalled his unit, and he held a mass meeting in the base theater. He stood up, and he read Shakespeare to the troops. In particular, he read Act IV, Scene III from "Henry the Fifth."

Now remember, this is the scene before the battle at Agincourt. These Englishmen have gone to France. They've been frustrated in their attempt to come to a decisive battle with the French. They're out in the mud and in the rain, and their clothes are in tatters. They've been decimated by disease. So there's very few of them as they sit there and they look out at these French camp fires on the hillside. They're thinking about what will happen the next day.

Westmoreland, one of the king's cousins, says:

Oh, that we now had here but one ten-thousandth of those men in England that do no work today.

The King heard this and he says:

What s he that wishes so?

My cousin Westmoreland?

No, my fair cousin.

If we are mark d to die, we are enow to do our country loss; And if to live,

The fewer men, the greater the share of honor.

God's will, I pray thee, wish not one man more.

That he which hath no stomach to this fight, let him depart; His passport shall be made and crowns for convoy put into his purse;

We would not die in that man s company

That fears his fellowship to die with us.

This day is call d the Feast of Crispian;

He that outlives this day and comes safe home

Will stand a Tiptoe when this day is named,

And rouse him at the name of Crispian.

He that shall live this day and see old age

Will yearly ... on the vigil ... feast his neighbors,

And say, Tomorrow is St. Crispian;

Then he will strip his sleeve and show his scars

And say, These wounds I had on Crispin's day.

This story shall the good man teach his son;

And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by

From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be remembered;

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.

For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.

In the end, well over 90 percent of Joe T. Pound's unit answered the call, went to Vietnam and served with distinction. Joe T. was a citizen soldier. He understood the challenge. He used an extraordinary tool, but he got the job done.

As the vice commander at ARPC, he had a big influence on my understanding of the National Guard and reserve components. He made sure that during my tour I attended at least two UTAs [unit training assemblies] per month to learn about the challenges of being a guardsman or a reservist. That's where I got to meet many of you who have become key leaders in the Guard. It's where I came to appreciate the demands on your families, your employers and yourselves.

Today, as I look back over the past 20 years and reflect on what that experience has meant to me personally, I would tell you that I have a whole different perspective on national security. I could never have predicted the way history would play out -- even from 1974 to 1994.

Trying to predict things of this nature is very difficult, and I'm reminded of that great American Casey Stengel, who commented on the subject of predictions by saying, As I get older, I have learned not to make predictions -- especially about the future. Casey had it about right.

So given that advice, I believe that taking a historical perspective helps us understand how to deal with some of the challenges that we see. Certainly a fundamental precept of our American military tradition is that the United States of America is a militia nation. It is a militia nation.

The corollary is that during the Cold War period where we maintained a large standing military force, much of which was forward deployed around the world, many of us came to believe that that was the way things had always been and always would be. But the fact of the matter is, it was an aberration in our history. It was an aberration that was driven by a very dangerous threat to America's security. It was driven by a leadership role that we assumed after World War II. It was driven by a very different set of circumstances.

We heard during the roll call that the militia in Virginia had been drilling well before the folks in New England were over their sea sickness. So my historical fact here may be at some odds with what has just been presented to this group. But from my perspective, the militia tradition goes back nearly 360 years when the Massachusetts colony established the first militia in North America. If the books are wrong, we need to get a footnote.

This tradition was bolstered in large part by a deep resentment of large standing military forces. They were seen as an unnecessary burden on these young colonies. This resentment was born through the experiences of the settlers in Europe.

So they chose to rely on militia forces to the maximum extent possible. The idea was that citizen soldiers would take up arms in times of emergency. That reliance was reflected in the response of 70 Minutemen who assembled on Lexington Green some 220 years ago to fight the British regulars.

After militia-based forces won the American Revolution, the Continental Congress reduced the nation's active duty military force to a caretaker structure of 80 troops in 1784. At the same time, the Congress asked the states to furnish 700 militiamen to garrison the Western frontier. This was a policy, then, that was established during the birthing days of our country, and it has continued with us to this very day.

Particularly as we engaged in conflicts throughout the 1800s and into the early 1900s, it served the nation well -- in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, our Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and to a great degree, in the Korean War.

The idea was that in peacetime, the U.S. maintained a small full-time military that was augmented during wartime with state militia and eventually, the National Guard. Once a conflict was over, the nation rapidly demobilized and returned to its reliance on militia or Guard forces. We consistently applied this approach into the 1940s.

After the victory in World War II, we had 12.1 million men and women under arms. We began a headlong demobilization as a nation in the fall of 1945. As a nation, we chose to focus on domestic issues and reap the benefits of the hard-won peace on the home front. We were faced with some familiar themes like defense conversion. We went from a defense industry that was producing one aircraft every hour on a 24-hour basis ... , one where we were producing certain classes of ships one every two to three weeks. So we were challenged with converting to an economy that would produce consumer goods needed to furnish the homes that were going to be built for these veterans -- veterans who were to come home, build businesses, take advantage of the GI Bill and provide the leadership in our society as no other generation of Americans has ever done.

Unfortunately, during this period of time we didn't pay very much attention to our defense establishment. It got somewhat out of balance -- both in the active and in the Reserve and Guard components. Within the Guard and Reserve units, there was little sense of mission during this time. There was lots of excessive time; units held great bull sessions on training days. We had lots of excess World War II equipment around. But there was very little expertise being developed and very little esprit de corps.

The Guard and the Reserve [were] perceived as competing with the active forces for the very few resources that were available. Active forces were not in much better shape. They weren't very ready. We had forces stationed overseas, but they weren't focused on combat missions. They were occupation troops. They were there to administer the peace in the defeated countries.

In the end, when the challenge came, neither our active nor our Reserve and Guard forces were ready to deal with an increasingly hostile world. There were indicators out there that should have been ringing the bell of people concerned about defense.

The Iron Curtain was descending across Eastern Europe. There was a thinly disguised communist insurgency under way in Greece, called the Greek Civil War. The Soviet Union tried to force the Allies out of Berlin, which led to the Berlin Airlift. In 1949, the Soviet Union exploded a thermonuclear device. In 1949, the most populous nation on the face of the Earth, China, became Communist China. And so it was: All the indicators, but nobody was reading the tea leaves.

So in the summer of 1950, when a third- or fourth-rate nation, North Korea, attacked its neighbor to the south, South Korea, war broke out, and the United States was very rapidly drawn into it. At the outset, we were unable to mount any kind of effective response. You all know the story. We were driven into a small enclave, the Pusan Perimeter, where we fought desperately to hang on while we recalled guardsmen and reservists to jump-start our military machine.

There were many individual successes, but many cases of institutional failure during this period. By the time the war was over, 54,000 Americans had died in this conflict -- many of whom were guardsmen and reservists.

It was a sad experience. It was a wake-up call. That's what the Korean experience was for us. It demonstrated to the American people that this thing called international communism might be a threat to the American way of life.

The secretary of defense at that time was retired Gen. George C. Marshall. I quote, "Recognition of this fact" -- that communism was a threat to world peace -- "Recognition of this fact by the American people made it possible to start rebuilding the armed forces to the minimum strength required for the security of the United States."

So it was in the mid-1950s that we adopted a new strategy of containment toward the Soviet Union and China. It was after Korea that we began to field the forces required.

We had to build up a large active duty force, because much of this force was going to be forward deployed. We had to have a large rotational base back in the States. We revitalized our Guard and our Reserve. We started this process as early as 1953. Congressional hearings were held.

In 1953, the chief of staff of the United States Air Force, Gen. Nathan Twining, appointed a board to investigate continuing problems with our reserve components. It was chaired by a lieutenant general by the name of Leon W. Johnson. He was a World War II Medal of Honor winner. He had been one of the participants in the Ploesti raids. At the time, he was commander of our Continental Air Command.

This seven-member board made some 23 recommendations that began to help with the revitalization of our Air Guard and our Air Reserve forces. In fact, it was the Johnson Board that provided the framework for the next transition into our total force.

The 1960s saw great improvements. But it was in the early 1970s, when we moved to an all-volunteer force after the Vietnam War, that the true importance of the Guard and Reserve was brought home to our national security planners once again. Because when we went to an all-volunteer force, that meant we could no longer pay this force at minimum subsistence-type wages. We were no longer drafting people, asking them to serve for a few years and then letting them leave and go back to society. We were out there effectively competing with the rest of the American work force to get people to come on board, to stay on board.

We could not afford to pay the numbers of people required to provide the security of this nation. We had to find a better way to utilize our Guard and Reserve forces. From this was born the idea of the Total Force concept that emerged eventually into the Total Force policy in 1974.

As a result, our Guard and Reserve forces have achieved some of the highest states of readiness in the peacetime history of our nation. Units were provided with modern, advanced weapon systems and some of the very best in realistic training.

Then, of course, in the late 1980s, we won the Cold War. The big threat from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe began to fall apart. It was a validation of the basic premise of containment. It worked. Sustained pressure around the periphery of the Soviet Union and China had prevented expansion and contributed to the internal transformation of those countries.

So we saw the Berlin Wall come down in 1989 and the Warsaw Pact collapse in 1990. The Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991. And America began to change its national security strategy to accommodate these dramatic events.

It was in August of 1990 that then-President Bush announced the new strategy for the country. We were going to reduce our overseas basing. We were going to maintain just enough forward presence to help facilitate the introduction of U.S. forces if they were called upon to come to the aid of allies, provide humanitarian assistance or protect some vital U.S. interest.

Part and parcel of this was that as we brought these forces home, we would evaluate their roles and their missions. If the force was superfluous to our defense needs, we would disband the units. If the forces had a mission, had a function that could be performed by the Guard or the Reserve, that mission would be put into the Guard and the Reserve. In the end, we would have a much smaller continental U.S.-based contingency force: a total force of active, Guard and Reserve that would deploy forward to defend U.S. interests.

Recently, under President Clinton, we conducted a bottom-up review to relook this strategy. The concept was validated. In fact, it resulted in further decreases of the active force.

When we started this process, the United States Air Force had 40 fighter wing equivalents of force structure. The Navy had 16 carriers, and the Army had 18 active divisions. When we complete it, the Air Force will have 20 fighter wings; the Navy 12 carriers; and the Army 10 divisions. Of those 20 fighter wings that the Air Force will have, seven of them will be in the Guard and the Reserve.

The Air Force is drawing down from 608,000 active duty people to 380,000. Today we're just hovering over 400,000. The Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve are going from 200,000 to just over 180,000. Our civilian work force has declined from over 266,000 to 190,000. It will go on down to 165,000. All the services are implementing similar reductions. This is no small drawdown. This is a demobilization, and it's taking us back toward our traditional reliance on Guard and Reserve forces.

Confronted with the dramatic changes in the international environment and the requirement to achieve major force reductions, the Air Force leadership felt a little bit like Woody Allen, who wrote the following in his essay, "Address to the Graduates." He said, "Today we are at the crossroads. One road leads to hopelessness and despair, the other to total extinction. Let us pray we choose wisely."

I don't think those were the real alternatives that we faced in the military, but we were faced with some hard decisions. And I think that we have worked hard in all the services to demobilize properly, to get it right. We've tried to maintain the right kinds of forces, the right mix and the right level of investment in O&M [operations and maintenance] and in modernization. I can tell you that the result is an Air Force today that is more ready than it's ever been. When I say Air Force, I'm talking about the entire team -- active duty, guardsmen, reservists and civilians.

I'll tell you straight out that we consider the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve as full partners on our team. We put our money and our first-line equipment where our mouth is. We have relied very heavily on you all to help us deal with the challenges of the post-Cold War world.

As we reduced our force structure some 33 percent, we found ourselves being tasked at four times the rate we had been tasked during the Cold War period.

We have been confronted with numerous crises that require the use of military force. The recent execution of air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs is only the most recent example. We've flown NATO's Deny Flight operations over Bosnia now for nearly 29 months. We've maintained an air occupation over southern Iraq for three years. We've been engaged in an operation in northern Iraq called Provide Comfort for four years.

Last fall, when Saddam Hussein looked like he was going to challenge us again, we deployed 122 additional combat aircraft to Southeast Asia to deter this aggression. All that time we were doing that, we were helping to restore democracy in Haiti.

And during this whole time we've been helping spread U.S. influence and enlarge the concepts of democracy around the world by delivering tons of humanitarian relief and aid to places like Somalia, Bosnia, the Ukraine, Rwanda and even into our old enemy's heartland, the Soviet Union.

As this growing optempo [operations tempo] began to stress our active forces, the stresses looked something like this: in an Air Force of 400,000 people, 82,000 are forward deployed in PACAF [Pacific Air Forces] or USAFE [U.S. Air Forces in Europe] or SOUTHCOM [U.S. Southern Command]. In addition to those 82,000, today as I read my ops summary, there were 9,448 members of the Air Force that were TDY [temporary duty] from home station in support of some contingency operation.

So we realized that we were at a fork in the road with this optempo. We remembered Yogi Berra's sage advice: "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." So we did.

We took the logical step of going back to the National Guard and the Reserve to seek additional assistance and look for new and innovative ways that they could help us with this optempo. The response has been tremendous.

The Air National Guard has been an active partner in our contingency operations around the world. Your forces flew mobility missions to deliver aid and supplies and troops to crisis locations and to refuel the aircraft that built the so-called air bridges. You provided A-10s, F-15s, F-16s and F-4G fighter units for Deny Flight, Southern Watch and Provide Comfort. Your people even volunteered to pull holiday tours so that our active duty members could spend Christmas with their families.

I remember last year when Ms. Jane and I were at Incirlik, Turkey, for Christmas Day, we saw all these people running around in these outlandish-looking shirts. We had a little trouble making it add up. Then we discovered that the Hawaii Air National Guard was deployed to Incirlik, Turkey, with their F-15s during the Christmas season -- just an example of how extensive and robust this participation was.

As I speak, there are 742 guardsmen deployed around the world with their active duty counterparts. They're operating KC-135s at Pisa in Italy, A-10s at Aviano, F-4Gs at Incirlik, Turkey, A-10s in Southwest Asia and mobile ground radars in Latin America. They are willingly sharing the risk of combat operations. Guard A-10s have been part of the NATO force attacking the Bosnian Serb targets over the past week in Operation Deliberate Force.

I stand before you to thank you and all the men and women of the Air National Guard who are making vital contributions to our nation's security as full members of our total force team. We value their tremendous skill, their dedication and their professionalism. The same skills, the same traits, the same things that impressed me in 1968 when I flew with the guardsmen and reservists who came to Vietnam.

We're seeking to expand the role of the Guard in areas where it makes sense. Today, we have an Air National Guard unit operating B-1s at McConnell Air Force Base [Kan.]. Another is taking on the tac recce [tactical reconnaissance] mission. Yet another is preparing for the space mission of mobile missile warning.

As we consider other mission areas that the Guard can help us in, space operations certainly looms big. So does this burgeoning area of information warfare. In the information warfare area, who better could help us to protect our own information systems than citizen soldiers who work with these advanced systems day-to-day in their civilian jobs? The transferability of skills would be extremely useful in helping us safeguard our computer-based capabilities. The innovation, initiative and fresh thought would help us to find ways to attack the enemy's systems.

The bottom line is that I'm proud to serve with outstanding members of the Army and Air National Guard in these very challenging times. I won't let anybody tell me that guardsmen are just weekend warriors, because I know better.

We live in a joint, total force world. When the chairman, my fellow service chiefs and I sit as the Joint Chiefs, we strive to provide America the very best in military capabilities to secure our interests around the globe. What that means is soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines -- active, Guard and Reserve -- dedicated to the defense of this great nation.

As Henry V said, "We few, we happy few. We band of brothers." It can be no other way.

Thank you, and best wishes for a highly successful convention.

 

Published for internal information use by the American Forces Information Service, a field activity of the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), Washington, D.C. Parenthetical entries are speaker/author notes; bracketed entries are editorial notes. This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission. Defense Issues is available on the Internet via the World Wide Web at http://www.defenselink.mil/speeches/index.html