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National Guard Bureau Chief Briefing on the Transforming Roles of the National Guard

Presenter: Army National Guard Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum
May 16, 2003

(Briefing on the transforming roles of the National Guard.  Participating was Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief, National Guard Bureau.  A photo from today's briefing is located at http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/May2003/030516-D-2987S-010.html.)

 

     Moderator:  Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  This is another one in our series of briefings introducing some of our senior leaders.  Today our guest is Lieutenant General H. Steven Blum, the chief of the National Guard Bureau.  Lieutenant General Blum takes over this new assignment after serving as chief of staff, United States Northern Command.

 

     As chief of the National Guard Bureau, he is the senior uniform National Guard officer responsible for formulating, developing and coordinating all policies, programs and plans affecting more than half a million Army and Air National Guard personnel.

 

     Today's briefing is on the record.

 

     General Blum will be meeting with his state adjutant generals in Columbus, Ohio, this weekend, where he will be discussing some of the same issues of transforming the National Guard that he will provide you some insight on today.  And with that, General Blum, I will turn it over to you.

 

     Blum:  Good afternoon.  Welcome.  Thank you for all coming out here today.  We are going to discuss the National Guard today.  We are at a critical juncture in our nation's history where the National Guard is probably more necessary today and more relevant today than at any time since before we were a nation.  When we think about what the Guard is asked to do today, what they are called upon to do, and how they have responded, we can all be very proud.

 

     As we sit here today, there are 147,000 Army and Air National Guard citizen soldiers and airmen, men and women, deployed in 44 nations around the world, conducting missions that range from close-quarters combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, fighting the global war on terrorism, putting themselves in harm's way both on the ground and in the air, and combat operations, and at the same time keeping the peace in the Balkans, in Sinai, and defending the homeland back here at home -- a full spectrum of operations -- all the while never missing a call by the governors or the communities to serve right here at home, such as you've just recently seen with the flooding in Appalachia and with the tornadoes that hit through our southern, southwestern belt when that terrible weather pattern and awful destruction and havoc that that created.

 

     Having said that, the National Guard cannot remain the way it is.  The National Guard must transform for future threats and current realities.  The world will not sit still, and the National Guard cannot sit still.  We must adjust to those realities and those new and emerging threats.

 

     So we will transform the National Guard, both the Air National Guard and the Army National Guard, to be a joint team, a team with the five other services -- the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard -- and the seven Reserve components, so that the citizens of our great nation get the best of all of their capabilities and the effects that a joint team can produce.

 

     We are not set up that way right now, and we need to change.  So this Sunday, two days from now, I will meet with 54 adjutants general, the heads of each National Guard in every state and every territory and the District of Columbia all across our nation, and we will talk about where we need to go with our organization.  And there will be some significant change, and I would like to share some of that with you right now.

 

     First we'll start at the top.  I am sorry to tell you that there are 162 headquarters that exist in 54 National Guard entities right now, before you get to the first operational unit.  That can no longer stay that way.  That is just too excessive, and is not in keeping with the direction that the Department of Defense needs to go to deal with emerging realities and the way we will fight in the future.  So, by the first of October, we will eliminate 108 of those headquarters.  They will cease to exist.  And the way we'll do this is we will consolidate the three redundant headquarters into one joint force headquarters, so that we are organized in a joint fashion.  We fight jointly, we need to train and operate on a daily basis in a joint environment so that we can make that transition very quickly.  After all, our symbol is the Minuteman.  The Minuteman symbol is to symbolize the transition from a citizen to a soldier in minutes.  And, frankly, with the kind of threats that we are facing today, that will be a necessary capability of the National Guard.  So we are going back to the future, so to speak, going back to our roots.  We don't have the advantage of the time that our oceans once bought us.  We are defending our homeland today as we sit here as an "away game," to use a sports analogy -- a scheduled away game -- Afghanistan, Iraq.  But we also know that we can be subject to unscheduled home games, like 9/11, and we must be postured to respond if that occurs.  You expect that from your military, and we will deliver, and we will transform to accomplish those tasks, to accomplish those capabilities.

 

     A second benefit of transforming the National Guard into a joint force headquarters at all levels and pushing jointness all the way down into each and every one of these individual states, we will be better understood by our active duty counterparts.  We will then be seen as reliable, ready, accessible.  Part of the reasons in perception management with the fact that we are not seen that way today is that they do not understand how to access us.  They do not understand how to interface with us.  And, frankly, we are not training our young men and women to be able to operate in a joint arena, in a joint environment that they will have to be able to operate in the future.  So we need to start getting this down to the lowest level as quickly as possible.

 

     This will require a new way of thinking, and most real transformation happens right here -- it's right between your ears.  It's not about hardware and it's not about IT. It's about how you think.  And we need to change the way we think.  It doesn't mean that we will walk away from our traditional war-fight role.  We will leverage existing capabilities so that we are able to defend the homeland, whether we have to defend it as an away game, abroad, or whether we have to do it right here in our homeland.

 

     We will build on war-fighting capabilities so that we enhance what we already have to be able to deal with some new threats and emerging realities such as chem-bio.  I think we all understand that we are not as prepared as we would like to be to deal with a chemical or biological threat.  By the end of this year we will have chem-bio capable units that can do mass decontamination, that can do urban search and rescue, that can identify agents, that can advise the incident commander and build on an incident command system and help them with their command and control, that can bridge communications between DOD communication systems and local first responders.  We will do that by leveraging our civil support teams.  We have 32 Department of Defense trained, equipped and certified teams in the field right now, and Congress and the Department of Defense are working furiously to ensure that each and every state and territory has at least one of these civil support teams in the near future.

 

     We will do what's right for America.  We are not going to let turf and parochialism get in the way of what is right for our country.

 

     At this time I think I'll open it up and take some questions.  Charlie?

 

     Q:  General, I wonder if -- I'm a bit confused about the 162 headquarters and the 52 -- the 54 units.  Are you talking about 54 state units?  Are you talking about separate Air and Army units?  And what do you mean by 162 headquarters?  Are those separate Air and Army National Guard headquarters?

 

     Blum:  Okay, I'll try and explain that to you.  I'm  talking -- what I mean is what I said:  162 headquarters.  Each state has a headquarter.  Each state has an Army headquarter.  Each state has an Air headquarter.  Three times 54:  162 headquarters.  We have not reached yet the first National Guard unit.  That's too much headquarters, that's too much overhead, that's too much duplication.  That's too much waste.  To me, that's too much bloat, and I think we can no longer tolerate that, and we need to deal with the realities of finite resources, be good stewards of our taxpayer's dollar, and consolidate those three headquarters into something that makes sense for today and tomorrow, and that which makes sense is a joint force headquarters.

 

     Q:  So each state now has a separate Army, a separate Air Force and a separate --

 

     Blum:  Yes, separate state headquarters for their National Guard.  Don't act -- don't feel bad.  I felt the same way when I first looked at it.

 

     Q:  I mean, aside from simplifying a bureaucracy here, what is this going to save you in terms of money to do this?

 

     Blum:  Well, I can't tell you in terms of exactly how much money will be saved, because I'm not looking to turn money back in.  I am looking to harvest the money from that consolidation and push it against readiness shortfalls that exist in our units.  I want to push the resources that we are not getting the best effect out of by having three stovepiped headquarters in each state. I'd like to harvest that money and push it down into the units where the real capabilities to respond to the American people are alive.  And the same with the human resources in there.  There will be some people that will also be redirected.  As those units, as those headquarters comes together, it would be logical to assume that there would be less people required in that headquarters, because instead of three people doing the same function, maybe one does a function for all three.  And those people would migrate also to the units, because we have significant -- the biggest readiness shortfall for the Army and Air National Guard is in our manning.  So we need to push our human resources where the readiness requirements really are crying out for the help.

 

     Q:  How was the move at the Pentagon level -- one reason why you need to change your forces, is the active force also needs to be changed.  How about moving some of these special units that the secretary has been talking about back into the active force?  Are you going to take any quick action on that?

 

     Blum:  Well, I don't know if we are going to take any quick action on it.  But knowing the secretary, we will be taking action soon on that matter.  And there's three major stockholders when it comes to the Army.  You have the Army Reserve, the Army National Guard and the active Army.  In the Air Force you have three major stockholders as well.  You have the Air Force Reserve, the Air National Guard and the active Air Force.  And so if we can just stay with those two -- because I only have Air Force and Army in the National Guard force package, so I am concerned with what happens in the Army and what happens in the Air Force both. So there's three separate stakeholders in both of those two forces, services.  We will closely have to reexamine what we have in the National Guard portfolio in Army and Air, the two Reserves there, and  the Army Reserve will have to do the same, and the active  Air Force and the active Army will have to do the same.

 

     If we do this together in a professional manner, the American people will get the best effects from their tax dollars for the defense of the nation.  I have all the faith in the world that we have leadership in all of those organizations now that has the same professional approach that we want to do what's right for America, and we understand we have finite resources, and we are going to have to make some concessions and adjustments in all three of the stakeholders for the Army, and all three of the stakeholders for the Air.  Does that answer your question, sir?

 

     Okay, yes, sir?

 

     Q:  Have you been assured by someone here at the OSD level that the money, whatever money you save from this reorganization will be allowed to stay within the National Guard Bureau and not dispersed elsewhere in full or in part?

 

     Also, given the budgeting process that the National Guard has today, I mean, is that going to be looked at as part of this transformational thing?  Is that adequate for what you need to --

 

     Blum:  Okay, let me take this in the sequence that you asked.  The first one, have I been assured that any money that I harvest in this process will remain in the National Guard?  No.  Nobody has come to me and said, Don't worry, that will happen.  But I have full confidence, frankly, that they understand the logic of taking money and moving it to places where requirements for readiness exist that are unfunded -- either they are unmanned or they are unfunded.  So no one will argue with that logic.  I think it's totally in concert with where Secretary Rumsfeld is trying to go.  I see -- I don't expect any push-back or I can't think of where that money would be directed to with a higher calling than a readiness requirement that is already not funded or not filled.  So I think we're -- I am reasonably confident that we shouldn't have -- there would be no problem in that area.

 

     The second part of your question, if you will help me?

 

     Q:  The overall budgeting process you in the National Guard.  I mean, you rely on a various sources for funding.  I mean, how is that -- are you looking at that process as you are reorganizing the leadership?  Do you need to look at the funding?

 

     Blum:  Absolutely.  I mean, there's no use building an organization that you can't resource to make, to be able to accomplish the mission.  So we have to be realistic in that too, and we have to know what resources we can reasonably expect.

 

     What I have proposed here today does not require any significant increase in resources in terms of growth of manning, which is very expensive; or in growth of operating and maintenance funds, which is also very expensive.  There is no -- nothing that I have outlined here today have we seen that will generate those kinds of requirements.

 

     Yes, ma'am?

 

     Q:  When you talk about adding more WMD CST teams to all the states, is that something that you see just as an eventuality, or is that something that the process has already started to stand up additional teams?

 

     Blum:  That process has already started.  Thirty-two are out there now.  That didn't happen at one time.  That's been an evolutionary process.  We started with six, and then it grew, and we have had incremental growth.  That has been a program that has been carefully evaluated, carefully watched, carefully assessed, and it just didn't take an automatic life on itself.  It has proven its value.  They are operating every day. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't have a civil support team that isn't operating someplace in the United States to reassure in this case the governor or the mayor or the local officials that they do not have anthrax or they do not have some toxic or fatal chemical or biological agent present in their civilian population.  Just that alone has proven their worth -- so much so that every state continues to insist that they have this capability.  The Department of Defense has a plan that they will be announcing soon on which will be the next states to receive these teams, and the schedule for them to be resourced with their equipment and training and certification.  I don't think there's any push-back anywhere anymore that exists for not having these civil support teams in each state.

 

     Q:  Will the new teams look like the existing teams, or are they continuing to evolve as you build more?

 

     Blum:  They will initially look like the existing teams, so that they can be interoperable, because we think we have it about right for right now.  But as you know, the threats continue to change.  We'll have to make adjustments so that we're able to deal with those new emerging threats.  It's just a fact of life that we have to live with, that we have to adjust and kind of lead-turn and be in front of what people who would do us harm are able to do, so that we are able to deal with it at the right time.  It's sort of like the duck hunter.  You have to lead the duck.  If you shoot at him, you miss, and if you shoot behind him, you sure miss.  We've got to get it out in front so that when we need to, we have the right capabilities just in time so that we can respond in your community in making sure of your safety.

 

     Q:  Sir, you said that each state should have at least one team.  Does that mean that there may be some states that require more than one team?

 

     Blum:  Oh, sure.  Oh, sure.  I mean -- and that's why when I talk to the adjutants general on Sunday, we will describe what we need to do.  But the how they do that will probably be 54 different plans.  And that's not bad, because each state absolutely has different demographics, different geography, different mission requirements, different Army and Air Guard units, different DoD facilities in their state.  Some states are landlocked; some are on the ocean.  There's big differences.  Some have bays and canals.  Some are on the Great Lakes.  Some are in temperate climates.  Some are in very -- Alaska and Puerto Rico are very different.  So you have to make those accommodations.

 

     To answer your question, some states are very small in terms of geography; very big and dense in population. Some states have huge -- California, for example, the geographic size of California and number of large population centers would argue they may need more than one, because of the tyranny of time distance and geography, and because of the fact that they have such large population centers, more so than many states collectively have together.

 

     Yes, sir?

 

     Q:  Sir, can you talk a little bit about platform modernization as you get into transforming the force, bringing the Air and the Army units closer together and headquartered?  Obviously I would think that when you go out to the operating units themselves, the kind of platforms in terms of combat vehicles and aircraft you'd want to look at and the capabilities in those would also need adjusting.

 

     Blum:  Of course.  And what the Army National Guard will do is they will transform as the Army transforms, because they have to be plug-in players.  They have to be interoperable with the United States Army.  The Air National Guard will transform along as the Air Force transforms, because for the exact same reason.  What I have to ensure is that they can operate in a joint arena together at the National Guard level.  Of course General Myers does this for the Joint Staff -- for the Air Force, the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Army and the Coast Guard.  I have a much simpler role.  I only have Army and Air, so I only have to make sure the two of them and the National Guard in the 54 states and territories blend together and can operate jointly -- hence, joint force headquarters.  It just kind of calls out for this is the right answer.

 

     Q:  Are there some capability enablers in terms of technology that will help you get to that?

 

     Blum:  Oh, absolutely.  First of all, IT:  the ability to communicate today and to be able to do things virtually tremendously changes the National Guard from the way it was 10 years ago to the way it will be 10 years from now, and we are going to have to capitalize on that even more.  That's just one small example.  Situational awareness.  We can now link all of the headquarters to include if we go to these joint force headquarters in each state, they could be linked in with the National Guard Bureau or Northern Command for instant situational awareness, where the combatant commander knows what's really happening in every state -- not that they would take charge of it  -- that's not the point.  It's so that they can anticipate needs, that they can be postured to respond if necessary.  So we are not linked to need when we are called.

 

     Let me go to this side of the room.  Yes, sir?

 

     Q:  Can you explain how this joint operations approach will work with the other services, and how you plan to organize that?  You mentioned I think with the five other services?  And what kind of misconceptions might you have to address when bringing this together?

 

     Blum:  Well, I have met with the Reserve component chiefs, and they are quite excited about this.  You know, the Reserve components of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard and Navy have no way -- well, don't let me say “no way” -- have very limited opportunities for joint service.  This allows them.  They are excited by the fact that in every state and every territory there will be opportunities for the best and brightest of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, the Coast Guard, Reserve to have the opportunity to compete for joint billet, for joint service opportunities and experience, because you can't wait until you need it to be operating in a joint environment to learn how to do that.  So this will give them an opportunity that does much greater opportunity for that than exists today.  And for that alone I haven't received any, to use a Washington term, pushback, from any of those people.  They are quite excited about it.  It will also mean that when you go into a National Guard headquarters in any state or territory, you will probably see a Coast Guard person in there or a Navy person in there, or a Marine in there, which you typically would not find before.  But it's time.  It's time.

 

     Q:  Would this be true at the Bureau headquarters as well?

 

     Blum:  Absolutely.  We have to do it there first.  How can I expect the states to do it if I am not going to do it right here at the Bureau.

 

     Q:  Sir, give us a little history, if you would.  How long have you been thinking about this transformation, and what led you to believe that it's necessary?

 

     Blum:  Since 1968 -- (Laughter.) -- if you -- to be honest with you.  So I don't think this is -- that we are rushing into this.  I was a private at that time, and as a private soldier I was transported by the Air Force, I was fed by the Navy, I was extracted by the Air Force, I was employed by the Army, and a few years later than that, I had an operation that happened to be along the Chesapeake Bay in a multi-agency operation, where I was dependent on the Coast Guard.  So early in my career, actually before I was even an officer, I recognized the need for this.  I am just real glad that I finally have the opportunity to do something about it.

 

     Yes, sir?

 

     Q:  I want to go back to the topic that you mentioned a second ago, which is the possibility of shifting some capabilities between the active and Reserve components.  There have been a number of reviews that have been going on at the OSD level at the various services.  Do you have any sense of how far along those reviews are, how comprehensive the change might be, and any sense of the time line as to when those things might become realities, those shifts?

 

     Blum:  No, I really can't.  I'd rather not comment on that, because I don't think I have enough information on that to give you the kind of definitive answer you're looking for.  I'm not trying to dodge the question, but to be certainly straight with you, I don't know.

 

     Q:  You mentioned earlier that the consolidation of the headquarters would mean a requirement for fewer people in the headquarters.  What happens to those jobs or those people?

 

     Blum:  Great, great.  I'm glad you asked that.  I don't know exactly how many people this will reduce in terms of requirements, but it seems logical if you are taking three things and pushing them into one there should be some savings there, some significant savings.  What I would propose we do with those people is that they be redirected -- you take their skill sets and their experience and you plug them in against known readiness shortfall requirements --  in other words, places where we require people of that skill set and that experience that they don't exist now in operational units.  And, believe me, sir, those vacancies do exist.  That is our biggest shortfall right now.

 

     Q:  In every state?

 

     Blum:  In every state.  There is no state, no National Guard unit that is not short of full-time manning right now.  That is our biggest readiness need and that's our biggest resource need, especially if we are going to deliver the kind of readiness the American people expect of their National Guard.  We are no longer a Cold War strategic reserve.  You can see we're operationally -- with 147,000 citizen soldiers and airmen deployed today, you can see they are not holding us for World War IV.  So we have really got to adjust to the new modern realities.

 

     Yes, ma'am?

 

     Q:  Sir, you mentioned that you had shortages in the full-time manning.  How about in your traditional drilling guardsman manning?

 

     Blum:  We're doing pretty well.  Are you talking about how are we doing in recruiting and retention with all of this increase of activity?

 

     Q:  Right, right.

 

     Blum:  The first thing I'll say is we haven't studied it long enough to really see the long-range trends.  But we are not off our target by much.

 

     Q:  (Off mike.)?

 

     Blum:  Our annual recruiting goals were very close to ramp on that, and that is very significant, because a significant portion of our population comes from active duty -- people who come off of active duty and then come in as what we call prior-service.  Well now they have a stop-loss program in many of the services because of the war, and we are not getting any prior-service.  So even without the prior-service influx we would normally enjoy, we are holding very close to our yearlong ramp.  So when the freeze lifts, and people have some time to decompress after deployment, I think our ranks will swell, and we will probably more than meet our -- I am very confident we are going to meet our end strength goals.  But I think we may even actually exceed what were projected because of that prior service influx.

 

     Q:  So you are saying you are seeing an increase of people coming in off the street?

 

     Blum:  Yes.  And I'll tell you an interesting thing too.  We are seeing a better retention rate from the units that have been called to duty and deployed than we are seeing in the ones that aren't.

 

     Q:  What do you attribute that to?

 

     Blum:  I think that we are celebrating the 30th year of the volunteer armed forces this year, and I think it's proven itself a success, and the people that are coming in want to serve, and they want to serve their country in a meaningful manner.  And, by and large, that's what they are doing.  And there's some great self-satisfaction in that.  And it seems the ones that are leaving are ones that don't seem to be getting that satisfied.  I'm not suggesting we deploy everybody to solve that problem, but it certainly argues against what logic would tell you -- well, we are using them too much -- they are going to get out and we are going to -- but we have to watch that.  I'm not willing -- I am not ready to tell you that we don't have to watch that very carefully.  You have to remember human resources are our most precious resource in the National Guard.  I mean, that's what it is all about.  It's about people.  It's not about platforms, it's not about IT, it's about soldiers, citizen soldiers.  It's about taking young men and women out of the community, serving their nation, protecting their nation, serving their community.  So it's all really about the people.

 

     Yes, sir?

 

     Q:  In addition to headquarters consolidation, what other changes, specific changes, are going to come out of the meeting Sunday with the adjutants general?  And, secondly, what lessons learned have you gleaned from the Iraq mobilization?

 

     Blum:  Okay, first thing first.  One team.  They haven't always been one team.  The bureau and the states have not really been one team.  The bureau itself has not been one team.  The bureau is -- there's many people in this town, maybe many of you, probably think there's three National Guard Bureaus; there's one -- but they operate it as three, and that's over.  We operate as one -- one team, one fight, one mission, one National Guard.  Some wear blue; some wear green, but it's one team.  So that's the biggest transformational issue that will come out of Columbus on Sunday.

 

     And the second, sir?

 

     Q:  What lessons learned have you gleaned from the Iraq mobilization for the National Guard?

 

     Blum:  That it worked in spite of the process; that when we were needed, we were there, in spite of a process that was really built for a Cold War mobilization of a strategic reserve; and that we took measures where necessary, at some point to abbreviate or even obviate the mobilization process as everyone knew it, to ensure that when we were needed we were there, trained, ready and responsive.  So I think one of the big lessons that will come out of the Iraqi war will be take a hard look at the mobilization process:  Is it right for now?  Not, Was it right for then?  Is it going to be right for your grandkids?  Is it going to be right 10 years from now when your son or daughter gets called to duty?  That's what we need to look at.  Is it part of the solution or is it part of the problem?  Is it even needed at all, or can we move to more of the Minuteman model where you are trained and you are ready and you deploy when needed, and you respond.  And the time that it takes to respond is whatever time is allowed or necessary.  That's where I want to go.  That is where I think this nation needs to go, and I think that is where the National Guard needs to go.

 

     Yes, sir?

 

     Q:  How many deployments can your personnel handle?

 

     Blum:  I think part of that is sort of like asking a prize fighter, How many rounds can you answer the bell?  If he is a good cut man and if he has time to go to a neutral corner and he has a good team working on him and he is in good condition, and if his opponent is not totally overwhelming, if it's balanced, then probably he can do it indefinitely.  And we are seeing -- we are watching that very, very close.  We do not want to lose the national treasure of the National Guard and the citizen soldier.  And we have to be very careful that we don't go beyond the elasticity that this soldier will tolerate.  But it's more than the soldier.  If you think of the Minuteman with his hand on the plow and the hand on the musket that I talked about earlier, now don't think of him like that.  Think of him as a three-legged stool.  One leg is the service member, the woman or the man that is in the Army or the Air National Guard.  The other leg is their families, because most of our members are married and have families, and they have a lot to do with how many answers to the call will be tolerated.  But there's a third leg on there that I am most concerned about, more so than I am about the soldier and their families, because I think they have greater elasticity, because they understand the need for it -- it's the employer, the civilian employer.  How many times can they tolerate the interruption?  How many times will this go on and how much pain will they bear before the stop hiring Guardsmen and Reservists, or stop retaining them?  Do you see where I am going?  So we have to be very, very careful and watch that, and we cooperate very closely with the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve Committee, the national committee.  But the real -- where the rubber really meets the road is the local employer support for the Guard and Reserve committees right down in the states and right down in the local communities.  And they feed us -- they kind of keep the pulse of exactly that.  But we would welcome anything that the department or Congress would do to encourage employers to hire and retain Guardsmen and Reservists as their employers -- employees, excuse me.

 

     Yes, ma'am?

 

     Q:  Two questions.  What about the OSD plan for merging the military personnel accounts?  Have you gained any more information or implementation instructions as far as --?

 

     Blum:  No, I really have not.  Consolidation -- I can't argue against consolidation, because that's what I am advancing here today in some respects.  But I don't know enough about the plan itself.  The implementing instructions have not been issued.  I have not seen them.  I can't tell you if this is a good thing or a bad thing or in between until I see that.  The devil will be in the details, no question, and until we see those I really can't comment on that.  I am not opposed to it.  I am open to looking at it very carefully and giving my professional opinion whether this will be a good thing or a bad thing, if asked in the future.  But right now I don't have that information.

 

     I'll take one more question, if I might, and then I'll have to wrap it up.  I'll make it you, Charlie.  I'll let you have the last question.  Go ahead.

 

     Q:  Thank you, sir.  The other services have started their IT transformation in terms of standardization, consolidation.  How are you working with the active duty services to ensure your inclusion and your input into that process?

 

     Blum:  That's a good question.  We are doing that at every level.  I have taken extra measures to make sure that all of those boards have National Guard membership on them, that any initiative groups, strategic studies or strategic initiatives group or think tank pieces that are going on that have impact on the Reserve component have National Guard membership.  And, beyond that, Reserve component membership as well.  The National Guard wants to be a team player in this thing.  We can't win and have another component like the United States Army Reserve or the active Army lose.  That's a lose for the nation.  It's got to be a win-win deal.  The same thing on the Air Guard side.  This has got to be what's right for America.  Professionals have got to really sit down, no parochial pre-thoughts about how the outcome should be, and we put it on the table as military professionals, and build you, the American people, the very best capabilities possible for the finite resources we have.

 

     Charlie, last question?

 

     Q:  You pointed out early on that the Guard dates virtually back to the Revolution, and it's become one of the most entrenched bureaucracies in the country, and in every small town in America you see these places where you meet.  What kind of -- have you talked about -- have you talked to the adjutants general about this, and explained what is going to happen, or just going to pop it on them?  And what kind of controversy do you expect this to cause in states around the country in terms of political --

 

     Blum:  All right, I am going to take them in turn.  You're right on the first part, we are the longest lasting, longest standing military organization -- predates this nation.  That's a good thing.  When you call up the Guard, you call up America.  That was right before we were a country.  We formed the Continental Army, we responded to every call to the flag.  We will in the future.  This is a good thing, because when you call out the Guard you call out America.  You are calling out hometown America.  You are calling out every community across this nation.  That's a real good thing.  We intend to keep that.  That's not that -- we intend to stay the constitutionally based citizen militia that served this nation, and continues to serve this nation, so well in times of war and peace, and the inexact parts in between.

 

     The second part: No, the adjutants general have not seen this.  I didn't want to slow-leak this thing.  We are going to lock ourselves in an executive session.  I have all faith and confidence in that group of people that they will answer the call to action that the new realities insist upon or make imperative.  These are great Americans.  They are trained military professionals.  They understand their constitutional base.  They will rise to the occasion, and we will do the right thing.  And I am leaving them enough room so that "what" can be done “how” they need to adjust it within their own state or territory, which takes lots and lots of the angst out of it.  As I said in the beginning, this is not a one-size-fits-all answer, and it shouldn't be.  We really shouldn't do that, because all those -- every state out there is significantly different than the other, and I said that earlier.  So thank you.  Thank you for your questions.  They have been very insightful questions.  Thank you for the opportunity to share with you something I'm quite excited about.  The National Guard is ready to turn a brand-new page in a chapter of our history and make it relevant, so that when your grandchildren need it, it is ready, it is responsive and it is accessible, and it gets the mission accomplished.  Thank you very much.

 

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