Today is an important and pivotal time in the history of the National Guard, the president's nominee to be the next chief of the National Guard Bureau told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
''We've placed complex dynamic missions overseas and here at home,'' Army Lt. Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson said at today's confirmation hearing. ''The next chief of the National Guard Bureau must continue to effectively navigate this unprecedented landscape and work closely with stakeholders at the international, federal, state and local levels.''
If confirmed by the Senate, Hokanson will be promoted to the rank of general to head up the bureau, where he is now vice chief.
If he is confirmed, he told the Senate panel, he will work with the committee to ensure the National Guard is manned, trained, equipped and ready, whenever and wherever it's needed.
In recent months, the National Guard has been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic response in every state, territory and the District of Columbia, where guard members are helping communities fight the invisible enemy.
''[Guard members] are supporting key functions in their communities [for] testing sites, long-term care facilities, hospitals and food banks. We have delivered personal protective equipment, sewn face masks, turned convention centers into alternate-care facilities and so much more,'' Hokanson said.
The National Guard also has responded to civil unrest in several states and Washington, D.C., as part of a national call for justice and racial equality, he said. ''Our soldiers and airmen were there to protect our First Amendment rights and preserve public safety in the communities where we live,'' the general added.
The citizen-soldiers and -airmen responded to those events and others in the homeland while simultaneously meeting all overseas deployment requirements to support combatant commands and the National Defense Strategy, Hokanson noted.
''As a result, we reached a new peak earlier this month of over 120,000 citizen-soldiers and -airmen mobilized worldwide. What makes this possible has not changed since the founding of our National Guard in 1636,'' he told committee members.
Hokanson called National Guardsmen and women ''incredible.''
''They have [been] and will always be my highest priority,'' he said. ''They balance their military careers, civilian careers, their families and all the sacrifices they must make so we can live true to our motto, 'Always Ready, Always There.'''