WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 2, 2010) -- The National Guard must remain community-based, maintain proficiency, modernize proportionally with the active component and communicate, collaborate and coordinate with other military and government agencies.

Those are some of Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley's bottom-line messages in the 2011 National Guard Posture Statement released last week.

"The Guard must remain a community-based organization with a clear understanding of its dual role: to serve abroad in support of our national defense; and to serve the governors and people of the states, territories and the District of Columbia to which they belong," the chief of the National Guard Bureau wrote in the statement.

"The National Guard must remain an operational force, indeed a strategic force, and must be resourced as such, so we can assist the Army and Air Force as much as possible," McKinley wrote.

Late winter and early spring is a season of posture statements for the armed forces here in the nation's capital, where the leaders of military institutions provide congressionally required written testimony outlining the state of their commands and their needs for Congress to consider as it reviews the president's budget.

In recent weeks, two combatant commands -- U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Northern Command -- reported to Congress the vital role the National Guard plays in their missions.

"The Air National Guard provides the bulk of [North American Aerospace Defense Command's] operational force for air sovereignty alert missions," Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., the dual-hatted commander of NORAD and NORTHCOM said in his organization's 2010 posture statement.

The National Guard Bureau, a joint activity of the Department of Defense, also delivers an annual posture statement.

"The NGB, as part of the total operational force, has a greater role and increased responsibility for shaping the discussion and recommendations within [the Defense Department] for issues related to homeland defense and defense support to civilian authorities," McKinley wrote. "The National Guard has always recognized its unique role as America's first military responder."

The 2011 statement -- available at http://www.ng.mil/features/ngps/2011_ngps.pdf -- recaps the Guard's 373-year history and no-notice transformation from a strategic reserve to an operational force in an era of persistent conflict overseas and ongoing domestic threats; summarizes how the Guard's domestic and overseas contributions add value to America; highlights programs such as the Guard's Agribusiness Development Teams, State Partnership Program, work with at-risk youth, family support, training and counter-drug operations; and lays out a vision for the years ahead.

The National Guard's joint staff and the Army and the Air National Guard operate jointly -- and the National Guard Bureau is continuously furthering "jointness."

"To improve efficiency for all involved in domestic operations, the NGB is orchestrating an effort to maximize collaboration with partner organizations like the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency," McKinley wrote. "By working together with our partners, we will provide a more coordinated response for all catastrophes, natural or manmade."

The statement also lists challenges facing the Guard, such as equipment modernization, recruiting and retention for specific skills -- and the Guard's aging air fleet.

"The Air National Guard must be concurrently and proportionally recapitalized, particularly in order to avoid the near to mid-term 'age-out' of the majority of its fighter force," McKinley wrote.

The posture statement also includes reports from Army Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter, the acting director of the Army National Guard; Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, the director of the Air National Guard; and Army Maj. Gen. Michael H. Sumrall, the acting director of the National Guard Bureau's joint staff, as well as a listing of every member of the Army and Air National Guard, who has made the ultimate sacrifice in the attacks of 9/11, Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom as of Jan. 1, 2010.

Page last updated Fri April 2nd, 2010 at 14:45