FORT IRWIN, Calif. - Lt. Gen. Timothy J. Kadavy, the Director of the Army National Guard, visited Soldiers of the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania Army National Guard Aug. 16-17 at the National Training Center.

Kadavy circulated the field and held open discussions with Soldiers of all ranks, discussing the 56th SBCT's combat training center rotation at the National Training Center, which Kadavy began planning three years ago.

Kadavy said that it was important for the training to take place at NTC because the austere setting and open spaces provide ample training space for decisive action training, combined arms maneuvers, and live-fire exercises for the Strykers.

"You are a part of our nation's warfighting capacity, and it's important that you gain these experiences and learn from them," said Kadavy. "Take them home, and take them to heart."

Kadavy also conversed with troops about the National Guard's training tempo, and if it was meeting the needs of the 21st century Soldier. He inquired about the number of Multiple Unit Training Assembly days the Soldiers felt they needed in order to retain and apply the training they learned while at NTC, to sustain their readiness and meet contingency plan timelines.

Keeping in mind how training days potentially affect the families and employers of National Guard Soldiers, Kadavy encouraged Soldiers to continue to foster support for the National Guard in their personal lives.

"Our motto is 'We share our Soldiers with families and employers'," said Kadavy. "As long as we are cognizant of that commitment, bond and level of trust with our families and employers, they'll continue to support their Soldiers serving in the Army National Guard."

Kadavy encouraged the Citizen-Soldiers to complete professional military education requirements and to focus on leader development after they return to their home duty stations. He suggested that they find mentors who can offer guidance towards their military goals. He credited his own mentors for helping him advance in his nearly 37-year career in the Army National Guard, saying they recommended schools and duty assignments that furthered his career.

"From the standpoints of training, equipping and putting you in the right place with the right leaders, there is no other army that takes leadership development as seriously as the U.S. Army," Kadavy said.

Kadavy also spoke about the Total Army concept and how the components work together to meet the country's defense needs.

"When it comes to training Soldiers and training units, no one wants to send a U.S. Army Soldier into harm's way without giving them everything this nation can give to be ready," Kadavy said. He added that the purpose of the United States Army is "to fight and win our nation's wars," and that ARNG Soldiers, such as members of the 56th SBCT, must be prepared to respond to the nation's call.

"We're getting you ready for near-peer competitors that are going to be almost as capable as the United States Army in the future on the battlefield," Kadavy said. He stressed that current CTC rotations are designed to prepare units for contingency operation so they will be ready on shorter notice.