Bureau chief outlines guard transformation plan – Alog News – Lieutenant General H Steven Blum
In a meeting on 18 May, National Guard leaders from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands endorsed Lieutenant General H Steven Blum’s plan to transform the National Guard. Blum, Chief of the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Virginia, wants to consolidate functions and responsibilities in order to organize and operate the National Guard Bureau according to Joint doctrine. His proposals include–
* Consolidating the 162 state headquarters organizations (3 in each of the 50 states; the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands) into 54 and creating a single joint force headquarters in each state for all Army and Air Guard activities. Personnel and cost savings resulting from consolidation would be invested in readiness.
* Task-organizing 10 National Guard chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive enhanced-response force packages (1 in each of 10 Federal Emergency Management Agency regions) capable of responding to state governors, the U.S. Northern Command, or any other combatant commander who requests assistance. These task forces are envisioned to include a National Guard civil support team; an enhanced division medical company with the capability to decontaminate or treat 150 persons per hour; an enhanced engineer company with specialized search-and-rescue equipment; and a task-trained combat arms unit to support law enforcement.
* Creating National Guard reaction forces by assigning dual missions to existing units and training their members. These forces will be trained in both combat and homeland security duties and will be available to State and Federal Governments and any combatant commanders who request their assistance.
* Expanding the Guard’s involvement in ground-based missile defense, starting in fiscal year 2004 in Alaska.
Blurn ordered the National Guard Bureau to become joint by 1 July and asked the states to follow suit by 1 October. Currently, the bureau consists of a joint staff and separate directorates for the Army and Air Guards.
By transforming the National Guard Bureau into a joint force and instilling jointness into each state, Blum thinks the Guard will be viewed and understood by the Active components as more reliable, ready, and accessible. In a joint environment, service members will be able “to train the way they will operate in the future. “We fight jointly, and we need to train and operate on a daily basis in a joint environment so we can make the transition [from citizen to soldier] very quickly,” Blum said.
He emphasized that the Guard is not walking away from its traditional warfighting role. “Homeland defense is the National Guard’s most important priority. Make no mistake about that. We have been performing that mission since 1636, and the American people expect no less of the National Guard during these trying times.”
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