Defense Department News

National Guard Chief Highlights Force Readiness, Excellence to Congress

May 24, 2017 | BY Lisa Ferdinando

The citizen soldiers and airmen of the National Guard stand ready to protect and defend the nation, thanks to the continued support from Congress, the chief of the National Guard Bureau told a congressional hearing today. 

The National Guard is the most capable it has been in its 380-year history, Air Force Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a National Guard and Reserve budget hearing with the House Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee.

Nebraska Army National Guard Spc. Alec Rockford hoists down Chief Warrant Officer 3 David Flores while Sgt. Lawrence Lind takes photos from the crew chief seat during a training exercise, Dec. 26, 2016. The soldiers were deployed with Company G, 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion in Afghanistan. Nebraska National Guard photo by Sgt. Charles Wilkins
Nebraska Army National Guard Spc. Alec Rockford hoists down Chief Warrant Officer 3 David Flores while Sgt. Lawrence Lind takes photos from the crew chief seat during a training exercise, Dec. 26, 2016. The soldiers were deployed with Company G, 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion in Afghanistan. Nebraska National Guard photo by Sgt. Charles Wilkins
Nebraska Army National Guard Spc. Alec Rockford hoists down Chief Warrant Officer 3 David Flores while Sgt. Lawrence Lind takes photos from the crew chief seat during a training exercise, Dec. 26, 2016. The soldiers were deployed with Company G, 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion in Afghanistan. Nebraska National Guard photo by Sgt. Charles Wilkins
Hoist Training
Nebraska Army National Guard Spc. Alec Rockford hoists down Chief Warrant Officer 3 David Flores while Sgt. Lawrence Lind takes photos from the crew chief seat during a training exercise, Dec. 26, 2016. The soldiers were deployed with Company G, 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion in Afghanistan. Nebraska National Guard photo by Sgt. Charles Wilkins
Photo By: Sgt. Charles Wilkins
VIRIN: 161226-Z-QR920-001

The National Guard focuses on three areas: the warfighting mission, the homeland mission and building enduring partnerships at the local, state, federal and international level, he said.

Lengyel outlined his first priority as providing ready forces for the president and state governors. 

"As I talk to you today, we have 18,000 men and women deployed in every combatant command around the globe," he said, adding that 4,000 men and women of the National Guard are serving in homeland defense and security missions.

Fighting Seamlessly with Joint Force

The National Guard's operational force fights seamlessly with the joint force, and the National Guard is more closely integrated than ever before with the Army and Air Force, the general said.

"Our interoperability with the joint force will deepen and evolve as we confront future threats – threats that are now global, emanate from all domains, and are adaptable and multi-functional in their forms," he said in his written statement. "Only a well-integrated and well-trained force will keep our nation safe and secure our national interests."

VIDEO | 00:56 | National Guard Chief Discusses Capabilities

Ready for the Mission

The National Guard is the nation's primary crisis response force, he said, responding to natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods and snowstorms, as well as crises such as the Boston Marathon bombing and civil unrest in Baltimore and in Ferguson, Missouri.

The men and women of the National Guard use their skills and capabilities gained from combat to respond to domestic threats such as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks, large-scale natural disasters and cyberattacks, he said. 

"Whether it's fires or floods or winter snowstorms or terrorists such as bombs blowing up in Boston, the National Guard is there, and we're trained and we're ready because of the resources that this committee has chosen to give it," he said.

Lengyel highlighted the State Partnership Program, in which the National Guard works with international allies to assure partners, deter adversaries and help transition nations from security consumers to global security providers. The program will comprise 79 nations once the partnership with Malaysia is formalized, he reported.

'Predictable and Dependable Funding'

Lengyel warned about the effects that sequestration and its arbitrary cuts would have on readiness and the force.

VIDEO | 00:25 | National Guard Chief Discusses Relationship With Service Branches

"Predictable and dependable funding is probably the single most important factor that we in the National Guard need so that we can plan to recruit our people, so that we can plan to train our people and so that we can maintain our equipment and recapitalize our equipment through the services as we normally do," he explained to lawmakers.

The National Guard must ensure that every dollar counts, Lengyel said.

"Readiness is funding-related and [the president's budget proposal submitted to Congress] begins to build some of that back, but it's going to take a long time before all of the things, [including] the recapitalization and modernization of the force, is fully compete," he said.

President Donald J. Trump's fiscal year 2018 Defense Department budget request is $574.5 billion, with a $64.6 billion request for overseas contingency operations.