By Sgt. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau
OXON HILL, Md., (9/14/10) - The National Guard is a national treasure that we need to preserve and protect, the Guard’s senior officer told attendees here at the 2010 Air Force Association Air and Space Conference today.
“The dual mission of the National Guard, and its ability to combine and work with local, state and federal governments, makes us a force that I think is arguably a force that this nation cannot do without,” said Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau.
The National Guard has always had a dual mission at home and abroad, but it is now also considered an operational reserve providing forces for missions in
Iraq, Afghanistan, the Sinai, , the Horn of Africa and Kosovo. Haiti
“The citizens of the United States expect the full might of the armed forces to come to their aide in the event of a natural disaster, and the National Guard has been there every time,” McKinley said.
Since Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and then Katrina in 2005, the Guard has made rapid improvements to its response with local, state and federal governments.
“Our domestic mission is a piece of our fabric, it’s a piece of our culture,” he said.
McKinley also described the overseas missions the Guard has been a part of since the attacks in
on Sept. 11, 2001. New York City
“The Army Guard has been involved in operations for the last nine years, while the Air Guard is going on nearly two decades,” he said. “The Air Guard has been supporting the Air Force, and has been fully integrated into operations, such as Northern Watch and Southern Watch.
“Under great leadership, the Air Guard has been able to achieve this full integration with the active force and perform its missions in a very professional manner.”
Currently, about 44,000 Soldiers and 10,000 Airmen are deployed in support of operations in
Iraq and . Afghanistan
“Over the last 20 years, we’ve made some dramatic changes in the National Guard, changing from what the Guard use to be, to what it is today,” McKinley said.