LAS VEGAS — The Army’s vice chief of staff spoke to National Guardsmen last week to underline the importance of transforming as a total force and to express his gratitude to the thousands of Guardsmen responding to Hurricane Ida.
“As I speak, there’s almost 5,300 National Guard service members coming together from [multiple states to] Louisiana to respond to Hurricane Ida,” said Gen. Joseph Martin during the annual conference for the National Guard Association of the U.S.
As the storm hit the Gulf and moved north last week, Guardsmen responded. They helped storm victims without power, cleared blocked roads and delivered lifesaving necessities like food and water, he said.
Guardsmen from 11 states were in Louisiana on Sept. 1, helping first responders with 36 aircraft, 74 boats, 198 high-water vehicles, generators and engineers. The Soldiers and Airmen assisted with search and rescue efforts across 30 parishes, rescued over 400 people and pets and cleared nearly 300 miles of routes littered with debris, according to a National Guard Bureau news release.
The troops also opened more than 17 food and water distribution sites for hurricane victims, the release said.
Martin said the National Guard’s response to Hurricane Ida is an example of its capabilities, readiness and ability to deploy at a moment’s notice. Those capabilities are “complemented by the active component,” too, he said, stressing the importance of working together.
The general added that the total force must be ready to respond quickly to anything, like natural disasters, and be able to work and train together, “just like we have with everything else,” he said.
The in-person, four-day conference brought together over 3,000 current and retired National Guard members and their guests to Nevada to listen to speakers from the upper echelons of the military. One of the hot topics for the event was modernization.
With the Army’s transformation efforts in full swing, Martin spoke of the Army National Guard’s role within the total force. “We understand [the Guard’s] importance, and we must ensure you are given the resources and time to train, modernize and care for your people appropriately,” he said.
To transform the Army, however, it is more than the latest technology.
Martin said the Army’s end strength is a key part of modernization, adding that the minimum size it needs is 485,000 Regular Army, 336,000 National Guard and 189,500 Reserve Soldiers.
Even with those numbers, Martin said the total force has to change together if it wants to be successful. “This transformation is not about fighting the last war better, it’s about winning the next one. Winning the first battles of the next war,” he said.
“We’re no longer able to rely on our current capabilities to dominate the future battlefield,” he added. “We will be contested in every domain, to include land, air, sea, space and cyberspace.”
Martin also looked ahead on what could be in store for the force. For example, future changes could include realigning formations and capabilities. This, he added, is one of several ideas and as the Army transforms, “there are no silver bullets,” he said, that will guarantee success.
“This is the heart of our transformation,” he said. “We recognize no single capability, component, or service will achieve victory alone. But transformation is not easy, and this will take time.”