Lt. Gen. Ingram: Army National Guard accessible, capable, ready, great value to America
Staff Sgt. Mangnan Tan, a medic from Lubbock, Texas, with Security Force Assistance Team 10, Texas Army National Guard, treats a child who approached his unit near an area known as the "Jungle" during Operation Southern Fist III, March 6, 2013, in the district of Spin Boldak, Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Insurgents use the jungle during the summer fighting season as an infiltration route and cache site. The operation eliminated areas that could be used as concealment.

WASHINGTON (March 24, 2013) -- The Army National Guard is accessible, capable, ready and a great value to America, its director told Congress this week.

"Army National Guard Soldiers have repeatedly shown that they are ready to serve," Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr. testified on Capitol Hill. "All Guard Soldiers have either enlisted or re-enlisted since 9/11, fully aware that they would likely be deployed into combat."

Ingram testified twice in two days, briefing Congressional committees on the state of the Army National Guard. Tuesday he appeared before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces as it held a hearing on maintaining the National Guard and the Reserves in a time of fiscal austerity. The next day, Ingram testified to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense about oversight of the National Guard.

The general cited examples of the Army National Guard's accessibility, capability, readiness and value:

• More than 23,000 citizen-Soldiers currently mobilized worldwide, including almost 21,000 supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

• More than 500,000 individual Soldier mobilizations since 9/11.

• More than 447,000 duty-days conducting state missions in fiscal year 2012, which Ingram called "historically, a very slow year for the Guard."

• 50,000 citizen-Soldiers from all 54 states and territories and the District of Columbia supported Hurricane Katrina rescue and recovery efforts, while 80,000 citizen-Soldiers were simultaneously deployed overseas.

"Today's Army National Guard is the best-manned, best-equipped, best-trained, best-led and most experienced in its 376-year history," Ingram said. "The Army National guard is fully accessible, a proven battle-tested force. Army National Guard units have answered the call and accomplished their mission, time and again, without fail."

The director expressed concern about potential budget cuts. He raised the alarm about the possible impacts of sequestration on readiness, training and equipment. He highlighted the impact of potential furloughs of military technicians.

"It would be a terrible waste of energy, effort and resources to let the Army National Guard - a superb operational force - atrophy as a result of across-the-board cuts," Ingram said. "Those cuts would fail to consider the significant value relative to cost of the Army National Guard. It only takes a continued modest investment to maintain an operational force when compared to the strategic reserve the nation had prior to 9/11."

Among potential sequestration impacts, Ingram listed the curtailment of periodic health assessments, which would quickly affect readiness; loss of school seats and training opportunities such as annual training in support of European Command; diminished or halted equipment maintenance and delayed procurement.

"The furlough of military technicians will impact our maintenance programs [and] the fact that the depots in the Army will be severely curtailed, if not closed ... will cause a maintenance backlog," Ingram said.

Recalling a time in his more than 40-year career when the Army National Guard could not afford to fuel vehicles and had severely outdated equipment, Ingram said the component understands well how to "make something with not much."

"When you take even a little bit from not much, that puts you over the edge - that puts you so far out of balance that we move toward that hollow force every quickly" said Ingram.

Family, psychological health and employment programs would be the last to be cut, Ingram said.

Among his priorities, he said the Army National Guard should be included in rotations at the combat training centers and should participate in security engagement opportunities.

Page last updated Sun March 24th, 2013 at 00:00