The Officer January/February 2011 : Page 48

Gen CraiG MCKinley Chief, National Guard america’s Great Value nearly four centuries of evolution have defined and shaped the expertise and value of the national Guard. s the Department of Defense (DoD) continues to navigate this fiscally constrained environment, it is critical for defense planners and decision-makers to understand the great benefit that the National Guard brings as a dual-use military force. First and foremost, the Guard supports our Army and Air Force in the defense of our nation overseas. But we also provide our country’s first military response capabilities within the homeland. With these unique civilian skill-sets, the Guard is able to perform our dual mission here and abroad very efficiently and serve as a great value for the country. To illustrate that value, in 2010, the Army Guard consumed less than 11 percent of the U. S. Army’s budget, and the Air Guard consumed less than 7 percent of the U.S. Air Force’s budget, to maintain ready, accessible and fully operational forces. Indeed, the broad contributions the Guard has made to our country’s defense and security with our highly experienced and efficient force illustrates the great value we bring and have brought for more than 374 years to be the proud, reliable, and professional force we are today, continuing to serve our local communities, states, and the nation. The Guard’s contributions overseas are strongly felt as well. Nearly three-quarters of today’s Guard members have deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, or New Dawn. 48 the Almost 25 percent of our current force has deployed more than once in support of these operations. As I write this, 55,000 citizen warriors are either preparing for deployment, deployed, or are de-mobilizing. The Reserve component, together with the active components, complement each other as we fulfill critical overseas requirements that otherwise would simply be impossible to sustain. What makes all of what we do possible are our Soldiers and Airmen, the commitment and support of their families, and the unwavering support of our Guard employers. It is hard to imagine what an America without its Guard would look like. Our Guard is postured to rapidly defend our skies, on alert 24/7 all across the country, ready to intercept airborne threats. It is because of this sacrifice that we identify and employ a variety of support programs to take care of our Guardsmen and their families before, during and after their deployments. Our value proposition, along with all we’re called upon to do at home and abroad to keep Americans safe, makes for one potent force to confront America’s enemies and hazards at home and overseas. I do not think there has ever been a better or more important time to be part of the Guard family, and I thank each family member from the bottom of my heart for all they do.  O fficer / J anuary –f ebruary 2011

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