Congress must recognize the service and commitment of every member of the National Guard by ensuring the National Guard has an equal voice in Department of Defense, Army and Air Force policy, planning and budgetary deliberations.
The National Guard has always stood ready to support and be part of any challenge faced within the Department of Defense (DoD). Despite gaining a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the bureaucracy within the DoD still clings to old ways of doing business, not even thinking to include Guard members as equal partners in all the deliberations and studies that will shape our military into the future.
What's At Stake?
Over the years, the examples are many where the Defense Department has made decisions that downplay the unique role of the National Guard. The Army and the Air Force have recently learned that when you disregard the responsibilities of your entire Total Force, your decision-making abilities will be called into question. When you call out the National Guard, you call on America to be part of national security policy. This validation should be embraced because it enhances the Total Force. It enhances national security.
Department of Defense Review and Studies
The Army is conducting the “Army Force 2025 and Beyond: Setting the Course” study, and the Air Force, the Air Force has recently released a 30-year strategy “America’s Air Force: A Call to the Future.” Certainly, National Guard should be a part of the development of these strategic planning documents, and NGAUS urges Congress to make sure that National Guard representation comes before, not after findings are presented to them.
In recent years, including 2014, the Quadrennial Defense Review has included references to the priority of the homeland defense mission, but more input from the National Guard during the next review will help create a document that truly reflects a way forward for America’s defense. The National Guard should also be part of the Ballistic Missile Defense Review, the Nuclear Posture Review and the Space Posture Review.
There are many reviews, both new and recurring that would benefit from Guard participation. Relying on Congress to integrate Guard views and requirements after the fact has resulted in lessening the reputation of the defense establishment and caused mistrust among components where there could be strength. As we have seen, when the National Guard is not an equal part of the planning, independent Commissions on the Air Force and the Army become necessary.
The Essential Three
It is essential that National Guard Bureau leaders, the State Adjutants General, and Council of Governors be involved in key processes within the Pentagon, reviewing the roles, missions and force structure of the National Guard. Without active participating as key stakeholders in the processes that will form recommendations effecting national security for years to come, the National Guard and America would bear the consequences of recommendations borne of myth and traditional assumptions that too often emerge from the closed rooms in the Pentagon. The National Guard Bureau must continue to mold its organization to conduct the new responsibilities and authorities gained through law and cemented in its new charter. NGAUS supports changes in law, policy, manning or organization that promotes better representation of the National Guard within the Department of Defense.
- Increased National Guard representation in congressional hearings and forums traditionally reserved for active-component participation and consistent with membership on the Joint Chiefs of Staff
- The participation of NGB, adjutants general and the Council of Governors in the Defense Department’s Strategic Choices and Management Review and all future force structure, AC/RC mix, and Base Realignment and Closure reviews
- The increased participation of the National Guard in all DoD strategic reviews including the Quadrennial Defense Review, the Ballistic Missile Defense Review, the Nuclear Posture Review and the Space Posture Review
- The creation of a Center for National Guard Analyses within the National Guard Bureau that could focus on non-federalized Guard issues and provide Congress and all interested parties expert and comprehensive analyses of Guard operations and requirements into the future
- Changes in law, policy, manning or organization of the National Guard Bureau that promotes better representation of the National Guard within the Defense Department