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A Vision for the National Guard

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Lieutenant General H. Steven Blum

Joint Force Quarterly
Issue 36

Lieutenant General H. Steven Blum, ARNG, is Chief, National Guard Bureau.

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A Vision for the National Guard

Despite assaults on U.S. citizens and facilities abroad and the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, the warnings of many within the intelligence and defense communities that the Nation was vulnerable to terrorist attack were insufficient to force major institutional change-or significantly increase preparedness-before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Tentative steps had been taken at Federal, state, and local levels. The Department of Defense (DOD) had funded the formation of joint weapons of mass destruction (WMD) civil support teams within the National Guard beginning in fiscal year 1998. These units were designed to provide direct assistance to civilian emergency responders in the event of a chemical, biological, nuclear, or radiological attack on the homeland. While they are few in number and were still in their operational infancy in 2001, it was one of these units, the New York National Guard 2d Civil Support Team (WMD), that became the first organized unit of any military service or component to arrive at Ground Zero on the morning of September 11, sampling the air to ensure than no biological or chemical contaminants were present and providing critical communications capabilities. Air National Guard fighters conducted air patrols against further attacks in New York and Washington and across the Nation. Homeland defense -the original mission of our militia forebears when they first settled this continent-had returned to the forefront at the dawning of a new century, demanding that the National Guard restructure in response.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush saw the need to transform the Guard for maximum utility in the war against terrorism and ensure that it remains ready, reliable, essential, and accessible. While many of the transformational tasks facing the military are service specific-particularly the need to revamp the lengthy mobilization and demobilization process the Army requires of its Guard and Reserve units-the most critical changes in the National Guard will be in the joint arena. In a memo sent July 30, 2003, Secretary Rumsfeld tasked the Chief of the National Guard Bureau (CNGB) to instill a greater joint focus in the Guard and improve DOD access to its capabilities. This article summarizes the course the bureau will follow. It is the joint vision for the future of the National Guard.

A Joint Bureau

We are transforming our headquarters and capabilities to shape the future. We must organize to operate in peacetime and fight in wartime in a joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational environment.

The National Guard Bureau (NGB), the Federal body that administers the funds and controls (but does not command) the Army and Air National Guard of the several states, territories, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and District of Columbia, needed to be organized and operate like a true joint staff. A provisional reorganization of the NGB staff on July 1, 2003 was initiated to facilitate coordination with the Joint Staff and the staffs of the various combatant commanders. We flattened and streamlined the organization, aligning staff functions and responsibilities with those of the Joint Staff and the combatant commanders, and for the first time had Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard officers attached to the bureau. Secretary Rumsfeld ratified these initial steps in his July 30 memo to CNGB. A formal concept and implementation plan for this reorganization is currently under review. It asks that NGB be organized under a joint table of distribution, with a limited number of billets designated as joint duty assignments on the joint duty assignment list-to be filled by active component officers from all the services, or the Joint Duty Assignment-Reserve (JDA-R)-to be filled by Reserve component officers nominated by each of the services' Reserve components. When approved by DOD, NGB will be capable of achieving full operational capability as a joint bureau.

The proposed changes are required by the new national security environment, particularly as it relates to homeland security and civil support. They will be additive to the existing missions that the Army and Air National Guard perform for the services -not in lieu of those missions.

Some observers are concerned that seeking an expanded relationship with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and the Joint Staff diminishes the Guard's utility to the services. Such fears are unfounded; greater jointness can only improve the Guard's ability to serve alongside its active duty counterparts in any contingency that may arise. Providing trained, ready, and equipped forces as a Federal Reserve of the Army and the Air Force remains the core mission. The National Guard Bureau will not seek to reduce or eliminate its statutory responsibilities in this realm as it seeks greater relevance in the joint arena.

The Guard is committed to transformation. We will aggressively work with the Army and Air Force to integrate into their transformation plans. Simultaneously, we are transforming the Guard into a more joint and effective organization from top to bottom to meet the needs of elected and uniformed state and Federal leaders.

The National Guard Bureau has always been a unique organization. It was designated in legislation as a joint bureau of the Army and Air Force in 1958. However, NGB and the Guard have not enjoyed the training and experience opportunities that jointness has conferred on the rest of DOD since passage of the Goldwater-Nichols Act in 1986. Since that time-and particularly since 9/11-numerous other taskings have emerged that require the bureau to gain the training, experience, and status to operate in the joint arena as a full and formal player.

Why jointness for the National Guard? A unique ability to work in three legal statuses makes the Guard the most versatile DOD force available to the Federal Government for homeland security (HLS), homeland defense (HD), and military assistance to civil authorities (MACA). The attacks of September 11 illustrate this point. Some 8,500 New York Army and Air National Guard members were on the streets of New York City within 24 hours (some in state active duty status, and others-such as 2d Civil Support Team (WMD)-in U.S. Code, Title 32 status). Within 72 hours of President Bush's request to the Governors, guardmembers were assisting civil authorities in protecting U.S. airports (in Title 32 status). The Air National Guard has logged more than 45,000 incident-free homeland defense sorties (in Title 10 status) over the United States since 9/11.

Not only is the National Guard dispersed in over 2,700 communities around the Nation (allowing for response times in the event of local emergencies that would be unachievable by the active components), but it is also legally empowered to assist civil authorities in ways that the active services -and their Federal Reserve components -are not. Because the Army and Air National Guard operate under state control in peacetime, they are not subject to posse comitatus restrictions barring Federal military forces from enforcing civil law. Thus, while serving in state active duty status or Title 32 status (which allows for Federal pay while under state command and control), the Army and Air Guard can directly assist civil authorities in maintaining peace and order. Congress, recognizing the Federal utility of the National Guard while under state control, amended Title 32 in October 2004 specifically to authorize the use of the Guard for homeland defense missions while in this status.

Capitalizing on Connectivity

Under existing law, CNGB reports to the Secretaries of the Army and the Air Force. But the war on terrorism is a joint fight. Since 9/11, at the direction of Secretary Rumsfeld, the bureau has been providing continuous and integrated reporting of the Army and Air National Guard deployed in both a Federal and non-Federal status to U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM), U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Homeland Defense)(OSD-HD). Only the bureau can provide overarching situational awareness and a common relative operating picture regarding the employment of Army and Air Guard troops in each of the 50 states, 2 territories, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. This demonstrates its essential role as the channel of communication between the states and the Army and Air Force. Given the new national security environment, the necessity to continue providing such data will only grow. The time has come to establish a formal relationship with combatant commanders, the Joint Staff, and the Department of Defense to facilitate coordination of HLS/HD/MACA.

To further this end, NGB has begun capitalizing on existing connectivity throughout the states and territories to establish a Joint Continental United States (CONUS) Communications Support Enterprise (JCCSE), linking NORTHCOM, PACOM, OSD-HD, and other Federal and state stakeholders. JCCSE would help provide command, control, and communications for the entire spectrum of HLS/HD/MACA missions and is one of several initiatives to extend and improve communications and interoperability to domestic incident sites.

Secretary Rumsfeld has tasked CNGB to adapt the National Guard to better support the war on terrorism, HD, and HLS. Learning to operate in a joint environment, as our combat forces increasingly do, is the most important step in this regard. Jointness is a state of mind; it is about how we think, act, and approach our jobs. Jointness cannot stop at the NGB level. It must build bottom-up from the states and become second nature there as well.

The adjutants general, as full partners in our initiatives, have begun the transformation of the Guard headquarters in each of the states, territories, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. A provisional joint force headquarters (JFHQ) was stood up in each state on October 1, 2003. When tied to the proper administrative and joint professional military education (JPME) processes, this measure will yield more joint-qualified officers and greater interoperability with the active components. More importantly, JFHQ can provide a standing joint force command and control capability across the Nation that would be available to combatant commanders (as well as Governors) for HLS/HD operations. Furthermore, the state headquarters transformation created efficiencies by consolidating the three separate headquarters in each state under one commander, using the manpower saved to fill shortages in lower-echelon units.

The concept plans required to formally establish JFHQs at the state level are still under Joint Staff review, but the concept has already been operationally tested numerous times, most notably during the G-8 summit on Sea Island, the Democratic National Convention in Boston, and the Republican National Convention in New York City. In each case, an unprecedented and ground-breaking chain of command was implemented by virtue of a memorandum of agreement between the President and the Governors of Georgia, Massachusetts, and New York. A single National Guard officer was given command authority over Guard forces operating in state active duty and Title 32 status, as well as over all Federal Title 10 military forces supporting the event.

In a meeting with CNGB, the Joint Staff J-7 (Operational Plans and Joint Force Development) agreed that the Guard Bureau should be used as a partner to provide input for policy and doctrine for HLS/HD/MACA. The Guard is a natural leader in this arena; no other part of DOD has as much practical experience or the statutory intergovernmental role for dealing with civil authorities. It makes sense to put that role and experience to use. NGB has committed manpower to assist J-7 in developing joint doctrine, education, training, and exercises. In turn, J-7 has committed to a trial implementation of the joint training information management system at NGB and in Tennessee and Puerto Rico. Teaming with J-7, NGB will use its automated exercise and assessment system to assist in validating joint and interagency readiness and will be configuring the 3 National Guard education centers and 318 distance learning facilities to increase the availability of JPME for both the active and Reserve components. Joint training will be critical to the future of the National Guard. Congress has insisted that the Reserve components be included in the DOD drive toward jointness, and the NGB task is to ensure that JPME opportunities become available so that we can meet this mandate.

Adapting the Force Structure

New asymmetrical threats call for a different kind of warfighter and mission systems. We need to be smarter, lighter, more agile, and more lethal. The services will lead in rebalancing the force, and the NGB Army and Air directorates are fully engaged and working closely in the process. The Guard, drawing from the breadth of expertise residing in communities across the Nation, possesses natural strengths and efficiencies that should be exploited as the services transform. While the ultimate composition of Guard forces is yet to be determined, NGB expects that force structure changes instituted in the next three to seven years will increase the Guard contribution to the Total Force in several areas. For the Army National Guard, military police, chemical, information operations, military intelligence (particularly linguists), and Special Operations Forces are fields that draw on the civilian experience in our personnel to assist the Army in meeting its goals. For the Air Guard, security forces, information warfare, intelligence, and unmanned reconnaissance platforms represent areas of potential growth that would assist the Air Force in rebalancing its forces for the war on terrorism.

The Guard's involvement with the ground-based, mid-course defense program is a current example of its force structure adapting to a changing security environment. The Army Guard created a missile defense battalion in Alaska and a missile defense brigade in Colorado. Manned by Army National Guardsmen, with augmentation from the active Army, these units will provide the United States with a first line of defense against missile attacks. Reflecting the new joint operating environment at NGB, the Air National Guard, which assumed the CONUS air defense mission after the Cold War, stands ready to provide additional assistance.

The bureau has also been working on force-leveraging initiatives to improve the Guard's ability to contribute to HLS/HD, with the goal of giving standard Guard units specialized training to fill mission requirements in this arena. Each state has designated reaction forces-a company-sized unit to be ready within 4 hours and a battalion in 24 hours-that fill an identified NORTHCOM need. We have also created a dozen regional chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high explosive force response packages. These packages train National Guard infantry, medical, chemical, and engineer troops together to rapidly provide security, decontamination, and urban search and rescue at an incident site anywhere in CONUS and have dramatically expanded national ability to respond to a terrorist attack. Other special capabilities-based packages, all using standard units in nonstandard ways, are under consideration.

The Guard is becoming an innovator in information operations, driven by HLS/HD requirements, and with the tremendous resource of traditional Guardsmen who work as information technology engineers and operators in civilian life. Major elements include vulnerability assessment teams, which identify weaknesses in communications networks; field support teams, designed to conduct tactical information operations missions; and computer emergency response teams, which act as first responders in case of information attacks. These groups can operate anywhere in the HLS/HD-combat operations spectrum and will provide Governors, Federal authorities, and combatant commanders a wide range of capabilities in a variety of tactical environments.

Hand-in-hand with innovative capabilities packaging, NGB is exploring ways to transition Guard soldiers and airmen rapidly from state status (state active duty or Title 32) to Federal status (Title 10). There is ample historic precedent. Air guardmembers have executed CONUS runway alert missions since the 1950s, and Army guardmembers manned Nike missile sites in the 1960s and 1970s, all while serving in a state status. In both cases, standing orders automatically transitioned these soldiers and airmen to Federal active duty the moment an enemy aircraft appeared on a radar screen. The new threat to our homeland can be met with a similarly innovative means of enabling guardmembers to continue to serve both their states and the Nation. Secretary Rumsfeld has also charged CNGB to advise him on how the mobilization and demobilization process can be streamlined, particularly for the Army Guard. Here, the bureau's experience of integrating the Air Guard into the Air Force aerospace expeditionary forces initiative has given valuable insight into how the Army could improve the process. While a multitude of policies must be addressed, in simple form NGB proposes changing the activation paradigm from alert, mobilize, train, certify, deploy to train, mobilize, deploy.

The Guard will, through innovative transformation, enhance and increase the depth and breadth of its readiness to perform all national security missions. Effectively leveraging existing forces, streamlining forces and organizations, creating or changing forces to meet near- and long-term needs, making organizations leaner, smaller, and more effective, and training and equipping to full readiness are the critical components of transformation. We have approached transformation in an open, collegial manner, talking with all affected stakeholders -adjutants general, NGB, the Army, the Air Force, OSD, the Joint Staff, and others, working as a team. Change is necessary. Today's guardmember, the 21st century minuteman, must be available to deploy at a moment's notice to defend America at home or abroad. The Nation should expect no less.

Also available online at:
http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/jfq_pubs/0636.pdf

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