Grass: Right Balance Right for Nation

NGAUS Washington Report

(June 18, 2013) The chief of the National Guard Bureau said Monday a proper mix of forces in the active and reserve components will best serve the nation.

Gen. Frank J. Grass said, “I try not to say one or the other. We have to find a balance.”

Grass spoke Monday morning at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. His address was followed by a panel including Lt. Gen. Joseph Lengyel, the vice chief of the bureau, Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr., the director of the Army National Guard, and Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, the director of the Air National Guard.

Failure to find a balance in the force structure might cause the Pentagon to shrink the reserve force, Grass said.

“We get in a major operation, where are those folks going to come from?” he said.

One option would be a draft, which is not a popular choice, he said.

“You ask anybody in uniform. We don’t want to do that,” he said.

Speaking to about 150 people, including a few in uniform, Grass gave a brief history of the Guard designed to point out the force’s many missions and roles, from flying air security missions over America to the State Partnership Program and efforts to battle illegal immigration and illegal drug trafficking.

He said one emerging mission suitable for the Guard is cyber security. The Guard has a potential “huge capability” for protecting and defending the nation from cyber threats.

During the panel discussion, the three generals each gave credit to their active-component partners for funding the training and equipment that make the Guard as ready and capable as it has ever been.

Lengyel addressed the opinion that the Guard is worn out after 12 years of war.

“I don’t think the National Guard is tired,” he said. “I think the National Guard is engaged and ready to stay engaged.”

In opening comments, Ingram addressed the issue of the Guard’s accessibility, saying, “The Army National Guard has answered the call and performed the mission time and again.”

Clarke echoed that sentiment in his remarks, saying, “The Air National Guard can do any mission it’s asked to do if it has the proper resources.”