The Army’s new senior leader introduced himself to the National Guard on Sunday at the 145th General Conference & Exhibition in Reno, Nevada.
Gen. Randy A. George, who is the Army vice chief of staff acting as the Army chief of staff, shared with attendees his latest impressions of the Guard following a recent visit to Camp Grayling, Michigan, to observe exercise Northern Strike.
"What I saw up there was super impressive and very refreshing," George said. "I was impressed, but I wasn’t surprised because every time I’ve deployed, I’ve had National Guard soldiers right there inside my formations."
Northern Strike, held annually during both winter and summer months, is one of the Guard’s premier training events, designed to validate the readiness of the Joint Force.
George became the Army’s senior officer when Gen. James C. McConville, the Army's 40th chief of staff, retired Aug. 4.
The service’s vice chief since August 2022, George is President Joe Biden's nominee to be Army chief of staff, but Senate confirmations of all senior military promotions are on hold.
Making his first public speech in his new role in Reno, George discussed topics ranging from recruitment to the Army Combat Fitness Test.
The Army’s new top enlisted soldier, Sergeant Major of the Army William R. Weimer, also accompanied George.
George additionally addressed the Army's recent recruiting trends. He said the Army has made adjustments to its marketing and outreach programs in the last few years.
"There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not sending an email or talking on the phone about something regarding recruitment," he said.
George stated that the service has struggled with recruiting 17- to 25-year-olds and personnel that meet the Army's height and weight standards.
He said that the Army is examining ways to improve recruitment, including adjusting the service's marketing and giving recruiters the right tools to succeed.
"We’re all in this together," he said. "We want an all-volunteer Army. That’s what has made us great over the last 50 years. But if anyone has any ideas, we’re all ears."
The Army Guard hit its recruitment goal of 30,880 recruits for fiscal year 2023 despite one of the service's toughest talent environments in recent memory.
Elsewhere in his remarks, George addressed the ACFT, which the service implemented a revised version of in early April.
George said he is a huge fan of the ACFT and wants to continue using it. His thoughts on the new test drew applause from the audience.
"I like the ACFT," he said. "We’ve learned a lot in the last 20, 30, 40 years. The science is a lot better. It’s changing our PT culture."
George also addressed the Guard’s role alongside the active component. He named the State Partnership Program as one of the best examples of the Guard working well alongside the active component.
"The Army Guard is nearly 40% of our operational force," he said. "We don’t go anywhere with only 60% of our team. We’re going to need everybody.”
George said Guardsmen are asked to do a lot.
"I’m really proud of the National Guard," he said. "The Army is busy as ever and the Guard is busy as ever. You are important and valuable members of your community, that’s a strength I certainly value."
George outlined his four focus areas for the Army: warfighting, delivering ready combat formations, undergoing continuous transformation and strengthening the profession of arms.
George's full speech is available here.
— By Donald Lambert