National Guard combat divisions are going to need better training
if they are to play a more prominent role in future U.S. defense
operations, according to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki.
The chief unveiled his plan to align eight Guard combat units with
Army active-duty forces, at the National Guard Association of the
United States (NGAUS) annual conference, which took place in September,
in Atlantic City, N.J. This means that the combat units will have
a redefined set of missions and training requirements.
The combat divisions will be aligned with four Army corps:
These changes come at a time when leaders have been unclear as
to what role the Guard plays in national security, during peacetime.
The alignments could mean that Guard units will take part in peacekeeping
The Army National Guard makes up 34 percent of the Army, with more
than 350,400 men and women. Its budget is $8 billion, or 10 percent
of the entire Army budget. The Air National Guard is comprised of
more than 106,600 personnel, or 25 percent of the Air Force. Its
annual budget is around $6 billion, or 7 percent of the Air Force
President Clinton, for fiscal year 2001, approved $15.2 billion
for the collective National Guard–$8.8 billion for Army and
$6.1 billion for Air. The Army Guard will designate $140 million
for aircraft modernization.
Shinseki spoke about the Army’s need to modernize its helicopter
fleet. The National Guard is supposed to receive 122 UH-60 Black
Hawk helicopters and 68 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters from active
Army forces in 2002, to replace the aging UH-1 Hueys. Shinseki wants
these helicopters to be delivered to the Guard sooner.
"We’re looking to accelerate cascading of helicopters,"
said Shinseki. "I think the [projected] figures [for fiscal
year 2002 show that] 122 UH-60s and about 68 attack helicopters,
Apaches, are going to be cascaded to Guard units.
"We’re trying to accelerate that, because we want to
get the readiness of our formations up. UH-1s and AH-1s are great.
They’ve been great aircraft. They have served us well in the
35 years I’ve been in the Army. But if you were to ask me,
‘are we going to deploy that in a warfight?’ I don’t
think so. Not unless there was a dire emergency, and we were throwing
everything we had, including the Washington police force into the
fray. I don’ think so. So if we’re not, then let’s
start training on the things that will count."
Shinseki said better training must start at the top. The lines
separating active and reserve training are disappearing, he said,
as commanders at both levels receive improved training. As Guard
units take a more active role, they need to be trained in an active-duty
manner, he said. In fact, a Guardsman presides over one of Army’s
interim combat brigades.
"You all know that we have a growing exchange program where
active and reserve component commanders share the experience across
the lines that used to divide us as components," Shinseki told
the conference. "Why? Because we need to know more about each
other and be able to explain to the rest of the component what it’s
like, what are the challenges, what we need to be sensitive to.
"In fact, we have a Guardsman command one of the interim battalions
in the first interim brigade combat team [at Fort Lewis]. Ernie
Aldino is commanding one of those units today. And this is not a
check block. The intent here is not to just be able to say Ernie
Aldino commands a battalion there, but as we look at these interim
brigade combat teams, one of those brigades–at least one–is
going to be a guard formation."
Shinseki said that Guard leaders need to be trained ahead of time,
so that they are prepared when their equipment arrives. The Army
chief reiterated his highly touted vision of having an objective
force of lighter, more lethal and more agile units. He believes
that Army now will be able to achieve this in the 2008-2010 timeframe.
"And what we need to understand is, start training the leadership
here, so that when that happens, we don’t hand you a set of
equipment and then begin the process of training the leadership.
And this will give us a vehicle by which Ernie can begin to inform
all the rest of us what challenges are going to be there, when we
go to a Guard formation as an interim brigade combat team–one
of these early-deploying, off-the-shelf capabilities that is going
to help us bridge the gap. But more importantly, when that objective
force arrives in the year 2008, 2010, that we have spent the time
training a set of leaders to accomplish that."