ARLINGTON, Va. (6/17/13) - The National Guard's policy on providing forces was made crystal clear in a recent memo from the National Guard Bureau chief to the Army and Air Force chiefs of staff. In short, the National Guard is fully accessible and "all in," wrote Gen. Frank J. Grass.
"We commit the Army National Guard to boots-on-the-ground deployments for one year within a three-year cycle period for unplanned contingency operations and one year within a five-year period for longer, steady-state operations," wrote Grass.
A similar commitment applies to the Air National Guard, with one period of mobilization to three periods of dwell time for unplanned operations and a one-to-five ratio for steady-state operations.
That commitment of forces is also in line with current Air Force and Army force generation requirements and models, said Grass, adding that keeping the Guard in the rotational model for deployments helps maintain a healthy overall force.
"Effective use of the Army (and Air) National Guard should enable the active component to achieve a deploy-to-dwell ratio necessary to maintain a healthy force," said Grass, who also advocated for use of Guard forces in ongoing and continued operational commitments outside of operations in Afghanistan.
"The Council of Governors, the adjutants general and I also strongly encourage the Department of Defense and the (individual) services to fully apply (10 USC 12304b) by placing National Guard units into operational use throughout the world against long-term, predictable requirements such as Kosovo, the Sinai, the Horn of Africa, Guantanamo Bay, sustained security force train and assist mission in Afghanistan and special operations deployments elsewhere," said Grass.
Grass said continued use of the National Guard as an operational force preserves the investment made in the Guard over the past 12 years of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. It also benefits both the active and reserve components.
"Doing so allows for increased full-spectrum focus of the active component and the operational pressure necessary for maintaining seasoned leadership within National Guard units," he explained
Regardless of deployment dwell times, Guard leaders also can be counted upon for no-notice events.
"In the event of a national emergency, the National Guard is committed to supporting all requirements for forces regardless of rotational periods, up to the limits imposed by presidential and congressional authority," said Grass.
Grass, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is confident National Guard Soldiers and Airmen will continue to meet future commitments, at home and abroad.
"The National Guard continually demonstrates its willingness and ability to accomplish all assigned missions," said Grass. "Our well-proven ability to achieve the commitments we give today ensures their worth for the future. The National Guard remains always ready, always there."
Presidential authority, as well as those of the secretary of defense, should be the governing factor for rotational usage of Guard forces in planning assumptions, said Grass, who cautioned against using other policies intended to stabilize and provide predictability.
"These additional policies and historical voluntary mobilizations should not drive hard and fast assumptions about the future," said Grass. "Two-year notice, nine-month boots on ground, 30-day individual notice, not more than 50 percent of a state's force structure deployed at once and other policies were helpful over the last decade, but they should not govern force planning assumptions for future contingencies."