FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii - As a critical partner in the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific region, the Army National Guard must be an expeditionary force, according to Director of the Army National Guard Lt. Gen. Timothy J. Kadavy.

"The Army National Guard is a vital partner in America's Army of the Pacific," said Kadavy. "If the Army is going to be an expeditionary force, then the Army National Guard needs to be an expeditionary force."

Kadavy recently returned from a trip to Hawaii, Guam, and Alaska where he visited Citizen Soldiers and leaders taking part in Pacific Pathways, a series of multi-component, multi-national military exercises designed to increase interoperability and relationships with allies in the Indo-Pacific region.

Pacific Pathways provides Soldiers across the Total Army experience in breaking through language barriers, sorting out challenges, deploying and working with international military partners.

Kadavy said taking part in exercises like Pacific Pathways prevents readiness atrophy, and allows units to remain prepared for quick deployments.

"Pacific Pathways exercises the mobilization and power projection strength of the operational Army National Guard," said Kadavy. "Moving units west of the international dateline exercise our ability to practice moving Soldiers and equipment to remote locations."

Kadavy added exercises like Pacific Pathways leads to better retention and morale.

"Soldiers don't expect to go to local training areas every year," said Kadavy. "They want to train and do something."

In 2018, Indiana ARNG's 76th IBCT became the first Army National Guard unit to lead Pacific Pathways. Illinois Army National Guard's 33rd IBCT will conduct the exercises in 2019 making it the second year in a row that the ARNG has spearheaded Pacific Pathways.

In addition to participating in Pacific Pathways, the National Guard has nine partnerships with countries in the Indo-Pacific region through the National Guard State Partnership Program. The program is in its 25th year and has 81 partner nations connected with a state's National Guard and their respective armed forces.

Following his visit in Hawaii, Kadavy, continued across the Pacific to Guam, one of the United States' furthest territories, to participate in a transfer of authority ceremony of the Homeland Defense of Guam Mission. For the first time, the Guam ARNG took over a mission from the U.S. Army's 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command to support security forces for Task Force Talon, responsible for operating the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Battery at Andersen Air Force Base.

"The mission on Guam showcases the Total Army vision," said Kadavy. "We are fully integrated between the Guam Army National Guard and the active Army THAAD Battery," said Kadavy. "What we need to do to protect our U.S. states and territories is work every day as a Total Army with the active component, Guard and Reserve to build relationships and trust now. What you are doing here is indicative of what the Army needs today and where the Army is going to go."

From Guam, Kadavy continued to Alaska where he met with Soldiers of the Alaska ARNG and the 49th Missile Defense Battalion, who have a vital role in defending the homeland against the threat of Intercontinental Ballistic Missile attacks.

As instability in the Indo-Pacific region increased, the National Defense Strategy of 2018 focused on security and our allies within the Pacific Rim. Kadavy added that the need for Citizen Soldiers to stay engaged in the Pacific and worldwide remains high.

"Our soldiers provide the Total Army with 39 percent of its combat force and constitutes the largest reserve force in all of the Department of Defense," said Kadavy. "Rotational deployments and overseas exercises like Pacific Pathways provide the type of joint training and leader development that enhances and sustains readiness that we need in the Army National Guard. Obtaining this kind of experience is difficult if not impossible to complete here at home."