The National Guard is integral to the National Defense Strategy, the Guard’s senior officer told Army Guard leaders meeting at Camp Robinson, Arkansas last week.
“This is the most ready and capable National Guard in history,” said Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau.
"We need to tell our story," the member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff added.
Hokanson addressed division and unit commanders and senior enlisted leaders from across the country gathered at the National Guard Professional Education Center.
Attendees participated in the Army Guard director’s Green Tab Commanders Conference.
Hokanson encouraged attendees to tell decision-makers, stakeholders and young people in their communities about the Guard.
“The National Guard is 20% of the Joint Force," Hokanson said. "We are at the nexus of our nation’s defense strategy.”
Today’s Guard is the combat reserve of the Army and Air Force, Hokanson continued, with more than 22,100 Guardsmen currently supporting overseas missions.
Guardsmen also continually support domestic operations, including the California Guardsmen now on duty helping their communities battle historic flooding.
Hokanson said that capability is a direct result of their combat training, equipment and experience.
“Our primary mission — our reason for existence — is fighting our nation’s wars,” he said.
Hokanson’s priorities include the Guard's people, readiness, modernization and reform.
Last October, the Army released Field Manual 3-0, establishing multi-domain operations, or MDO, as the service's operational concept.
After a generation of urban warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army will now focus on adversaries who can compete in land, air, maritime, space and cyberspace operations.
The Army's refocused approach also includes three connected dimensions to understand the operational environment: physical, information and human.
“Technical capabilities are important, but combat is ultimately about people,” Hokanson said.
"And that’s what sets the Guard apart," he noted. "I would put our people up against any other fighting force in the world.”
Hokanson reiterated to the group that he is working to ensure all Guardsmen are eligible to receive zero-cost health care, regardless of their duty status.
The NGB chief also discussed modernization and championed the Guard’s ability to innovate and maintain its equipment.
From an Army report to Congress in August: "[T]he portion of the Total Force that will undergo focused modernization includes three theater headquarters, four corps, six divisions, including one Army Guard division, and 25 brigade combat teams, including five in the Guard."
Also outlined in the report: "Army investments at the corps and division levels enable a data-centric, combat-credible force of Regular Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve formations able to conduct MDO as part of the Joint Force.”
The balance of the Army’s combat forces — five Regular Army and seven Army Guard divisions — are to be modernized after 2030, depending on the progress of the Army’s focused modernization efforts and fiscal considerations.
Eight of the Army’s 18 divisions are in the Army Guard.
Hokanson said all Army Guard units should be aligned under the division structure.
The 2022 National Security Strategy outlines U.S. challenges this decade as “setting the terms of our competition with the People’s Republic of China, managing the acute threat posed by Russia, and in our efforts to deal with shared challenges — particularly climate change, pandemics, and economic turbulence.”
— By Sgt. 1st Class Zach Sheely, NGB