A prominent lawmaker and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff headlined the 24th Annual NGAUS Industry Day today at the National Guard Memorial, the association’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Representatives of companies large and small gathered to discover Guard requirements and how to do business with the force from National Guard leaders. They also learned more about how NGAUS lobbies Congress for more equipment and better training in future defense appropriations.
Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., a member of the House Appropriations’ Defense Subcommittee and a retired Army Guard colonel, told attendees of the importance of keeping the Guard well-funded and well-equipped.
“I am honored beyond words to be able to sit in a group like this and say a few words about this great country and about what our men and women across the land are doing in preparation for dealing with the national security issues of our country,” he said.
Womack also talked about the challenges the Guard has faced in the past year, including the COVID-19 response and security at the U.S. Capitol, as well as the Guard’s time as an operational force overseas since 9/11.
“Our Guard guys have been stretched to their limit,” he said. “I do fear that after 20 years of being an operating force that, if we’re not careful, we’re going to see things kind of relegated back to [events] like civil disturbances and I think that would be a mistake.”
Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, spoke virtually from home about the importance of the Guard’s relationship with its business partners.
“I want to thank you for what you do for the soldiers, airmen, and families of the National Guard,” he said. “As you’ve heard me say before, [the Guard] made a promise to our nation and our communities to always be ready, always there, and you help us keep that promise.”
Hokanson couldn’t attend Industry Day in person after testing positive for COVID-19 after returning from an overseas trip in Europe.
Maj. Gen. Janson “Durr” Boyles, the NGAUS chairman of the board, talked about how great it was to have the Guard and its business partners back for Industry Day after two years. The event was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I truly appreciate your attendance here today,” he said. “It’s great to be back.”
Other speakers included Lt. Gen. Jon A. Jensen, the director of the Army National Guard, and Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, the director of the Air National Guard. In addition, Ohio National Guard leaders previewed the opportunities for industry at the 144th General Conference & Exhibition, Aug. 26-29 in Columbus, Ohio.
Industry Day events kicked off the day before with a mini-workshop, “How to do Business with the Guard.” Members of the NGAUS Corporate Advisory Panel, all of whom work for companies that do business with the Guard, presented at the workshop.
Industry Day drew more than 160 attendees, while about 100 participated in the mini-workshop.
For more information on Industry Day, go to www.ngaus.org/industryday.