By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Leisa Grant
National Guard Bureau
MILWAUKEE – The Air Force will continue to depend heavily on the nation’s reserve components, said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, at the 133rd general conference of the National Guard Association of the United States in August.
Originally scheduled to speak in person, Schwartz was unable to make an appearance due to Hurricane Irene; he made his comments by video.
“We’re all very thankful for the tremendous work that you perform … daily for your respective governors – work that ultimately is done on behalf of the American people – often up close and very personal,” he said.
In recognizing the National Guard’s exclusive missions, Schwartz said he has a deep and sincere gratitude for the service and sacrifice of Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen, who are undertaking vital efforts across the operational spectrum. These efforts, he said, range from domestic support to civil authorities to providing warfighting capabilities in hostile environments overseas.
“The National Guard makes daily and vital contributions to homeland security and national defense,” Schwartz said.
“We will seek to maximize relationships domestically and internationally, that have the potential to create efficiencies, to pool resource and enhance collective capabilities, capacities and effectiveness.”
Acknowledging the Guard’s State Partnership Program, Agribusiness Development Teams and its Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosives, or CBRNE, experts, he said these programs bring tremendous state-level expertise and resources to bear.
“It is only appropriate that in our federal system the plentiful talent, skills and dedication of our [Guard units] are also brought to bear … each offering proud Guardsmen who help to enhance the U.S. capabilities in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere,” he said.
These same Guard members demonstrate American ingenuity, experience, generosity and compassion across a wide range of civil support, humanitarian relief and emergency response efforts around the globe, he said.
“While many talk the talk of whole-of-nation efforts, our National Guardsmen help the United States military be among the very few who walk the walk.”
There are also challenges that accompany the Guard and Reserve operating more like the active component, he said.
Schwartz said he was moved by an article that highlighted a firsthand account by an Army National Guard member who expressed the challenges of juggling military duties with civilian careers.
“I am not without a deep appreciation for this sort of hardship,” Schwartz said. “The Air Force leadership profoundly respects and honors the sacrifices that you and your families make.”
As we move forward in uncertain times, Schwartz said the Guard and Reserve issues are collectively the Air Force’s shared issues.
In meeting increasing demand and dwindling resources in a fiscally austere environment, “We must stick together,” he said. “I’m confident in our ability to collaborate.”
The Guard’s involvement will be invaluable in our ability to deliver well-considered, repeatable and defendable solutions in the austere environment that is unfolding before us, Schwartz said.
“Let’s pick up the pace together, let’s work together and let’s achieve together,” he said.
“We would be a far less capable and far less worthy military force without our citizen- soldiers and -airmen.”