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NGB Chief Vows 'Punishment' for Attacks on Service Members

02-13-24 WR Hokanson WEBSITE
02-13-24 WR Hokanson WEBSITE
Washington Report

Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, says anyone who attacks the nation's service members will face "punishment" for their actions.

Hokanson’s remarks follow a Jan. 28 attack from an unmanned aerial system that wounded at least 41 Army Guardsmen in northeast Jordan.

"If you attack, if you hurt our people, we know who you are, and we will find you," he said during a Feb. 8 media roundtable at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.

"And there will be a bill to pay, much greater than anything you inflict on us," Hokanson added.

Last month’s attack targeted Tower 22, an American logistics support facility where several hundred U.S. Army and Air Force personnel are deployed.

Three Army Reserve soldiers from an engineer unit in Georgia died in the attack, which also wounded Guardsmen from units based in Arizona, California, Kentucky and New York.

Hokanson said 30 of the Guardsmen wounded in the incident had returned to duty as of Feb. 8.

He also revealed he visited one of the wounded Guardsmen in the hospital last week alongside his wife Kelly Hokanson.

Hokanson additionally noted more than 27,000 Guardsmen are currently serving overseas, including 8,000 in the United States Central Command area of responsibility.

"It is a reminder the National Guard serves alongside our active-duty and reserve teammates on the frontlines as an operational force in a turbulent and ever-changing global security environment," he said of the Tower 22 attack.

"We comprise 20% of the United States military," Hokanson continued. "Simply put, America cannot execute its National Defense Strategy without the National Guard."

Hokanson addressed other topics during his media roundtable, including the possibility of establishing a Space Guard.

"I believe the establishment of a Space National Guard is — is the best use of our folks that have been doing this mission, in many cases, for over 25 years," he said.

"My ultimate desire is to make sure that no matter what decision is made, that the mission that the Air National Guard folks are doing in space has got to continue," Hokanson continued.

NGAUS considers establishing a Space Guard as the primary combat reserve of the Space Force a legislative priority.

Hokanson discussed other topics during his recent remarks, including readiness, domestic disaster responses and the Guard’s training of Ukrainian military personnel.

He also cited the changing threat landscape worldwide as proof of the Guard’s crucial role helping defend the nation.

"With an aggressive China asserting influence in the Indo-Pacific and around the globe, a belligerent Russia invading a peaceful neighbor, North Korea developing long-range offensive weapons and numerous violent, non-state actors in the Middle East and beyond, the mission of the National Guard and the capabilities we bring to the fight have never been more important," Hokanson said.

— By Mark Hensch