National Guard June 2012 : Page 26
A Conversation with Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr. ‘We need to maintain our operational force ’ Enter the office of most general officers and you’re surrounded by personal photo-graphs, awards and souvenirs — keepsakes from the career that put him or her there. That was not the case a few weeks ago in Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr.’s office at the Army National Guard Readiness Center in Arlington, Va. The walls were bare and the trophy cases mostly empty. Few mementos from his distinguished 40-year career were on display. There were reasons for that, he said. First, this was his other office. His primary workspace is at the Pentagon, where proximity enables him to better engage with the Army senior staff. Second, he has had little time for decorating since taking over as director of the Army National Guard in November. He’s been very busy, spending much of his first few months as director on the road visiting troops and their leaders. The former North Carolina adjutant general simply wanted to learn firsthand as much as he can about the force and its facilities as he begins leading the Army Guard into the challenges ahead. Ingram sat down with National Guard in that office where he elaborated on his travels and shared his goals. 26 Leaders typically have a number of goals or priorities in mind when they take over a position like yours. What are yours? I think we’re at a time where we need to do our very best to main-tain our position. I don’t see a lot of growth in the future, but we need to maintain our operational force. And an operational force, to me, means a force that not only is trained, manned and equipped to do something, but actually goes out and does it. That’s the operational piece. We need to continue to deploy at some level for the missions we are cur-rently in, like those in the Balkans, the Horn of Africa, the Sinai Peninsula and missile defense over the nation’s capital. The types of missions we have been do-ing for the last decade require a unit to train and actually mobilize. We need to maintain those mobilization skills. I’d like to see our force structure continue to mirror that of the ac-tive component. Before 9/11, we had tiered resourcing as well as ALO’d [Authorized Level of Organization, i.e., reduced manning] units, so units in the Guard, in the Reserves and the active component didn’t necessarily look exactly alike. They had differ-ent modified tables of organization and equipment. Today with modular formations, an MP company looks like an MP company looks like an MP company: the same number of people, the same type of equipment. They are compatible and interchangeable. That was not the case before. As we move into the future, we really want to maintain force structure that mirrors the active component. Obviously, we want to maintain predictability for the federal mission so we know well in advance if we are going to be mobilized. That gives us an opportunity to notify employers, as well as families. I think we’re going to increase the-ater engagement. I would like to see that as a priority as we shift focus to the Pacific and as the Army moves to theater-aligned brigades and divisions. We want to be side by side with the Army in theater engagement. We do that to a degree with the State Partner-ship Program, but this would be on a much different level. And finally, I think the future mission set is going to increase our role in cyber operations. We have some unique opportunities and civilian-acquired skills, so I’d like to see us engage in the cyber arena as we move forward. | National Guard
‘We Need To Maintain Our Operational Force’
Enter the office of most general officers and you’re surrounded by personal photographs, awards and souvenirs—keepsakes from the career that put him or her there.<br /> <br /> That was not the case a few weeks ago in Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr.’s office at the Army National Guard Readiness Center in Arlington, Va. The walls were bare and the trophy cases mostly empty.Few mementos from his distinguished 40- year career were on display.<br /> <br /> There were reasons for that, he said. First, this was his other office. His primary workspace is at the Pentagon, where proximity enables him to better engage with the Army senior staff.<br /> <br /> Second, he has had little time for decorating since taking over as director of the Army National Guard in November.He’s been very busy, spending much of his first few months as director on the road visiting troops and their leaders.<br /> <br /> The former North Carolina adjutant general simply wanted to learn firsthand as much as he can about the force and its facilities as he begins leading the Army Guard into the challenges ahead.<br /> <br /> Ingram sat down with National Guard in that office where he elaborated on his travels and shared his goals.<br /> <br /> Leaders typically have a number of goals or priorities in mind when they take over a position like yours. What are yours?<br /> <br /> I Think we’re at a time where we need to do our very best to maintain our position. I don’t see a lot of growth in the future, but we need to maintain our operational force. And an operational force, to me, means a force that not only is trained, manned and equipped to do something, but actually goes out and does it. That’s the operational piece.<br /> <br /> We need to continue to deploy at some level for the missions we are currently in, like those in the Balkans, the Horn of Africa, the Sinai Peninsula and missile defense over the nation’s capital.The types of missions we have been doing for the last decade require a unit to train and actually mobilize. We need to maintain those mobilization skills.<br /> <br /> I’d like to see our force structure continue to mirror that of the active component. Before 9/11, we had tiered resourcing as well as ALO’d [Authorized Level of Organization,i. e., reduced manning] units, so units in the Guard, in the Reserves and the active component didn’t necessarily look exactly alike. They had different modified tables of organization and equipment. Today with modular formations, an MP company looks like an MP company looks like an MP company: the same number of people, the same type of equipment. They are compatible and interchangeable. That was not the case before. As we move into the future, we really want to maintain force structure that mirrors the active component.<br /> <br /> Obviously, we want to maintain predictability for the federal mission so we know well in advance if we are going to be mobilized. That gives us an opportunity to notify employers, as well as families.<br /> <br /> I think we’re going to increase theater engagement. I would like to see that as a priority as we shift focus to the Pacific and as the Army moves to theater-aligned brigades and divisions.We want to be side by side with the Army in theater engagement. We do that to a degree with the State Partnership Program, but this would be on a much different level. And finally, I think the future mission set is going to increase our role in cyber operations.We have some unique opportunities and civilian-acquired skills, so I’d like to see us engage in the cyber arena as we move forward.<br /> <br /> You spent a good part of your first few months as director visiting Army National Guard soldiers and facilities around the world.Where did you go? What did you see? And what did you learn?<br /> <br /> Actually, I really wanted to visit the territories first. I’m pretty familiar with what we have in the states, but I haven’t really had a good look at Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. So, I made a point to visit the territories and I found, as I expected to find, some absolutely great soldiers doing exceptional work. But I also found that some of their facilities are poor. Distance from the rest of the country provides some challenges.The Guard organizations [in the territories] feel a bit neglected. I wanted to go there first and see it for myself.And they have been neglected a little in the past with MILCON [military construction funds].<br /> <br /> I also wanted to meet the Title 10 full-time force that we have among the combatant commands and in the major commands of the Army. So, I visited Southern Command, Pacific Command, Central Command, Army North and I went to South Korea. I had a chance to talk to our Title 10 force at length.<br /> <br /> Another one of my priorities has been to work through the life-cycle management challenges I found coming into the building with the Title 10 force, because they are the face of the Army National Guard at Army installations and they’re our interface with the Army both at the Pentagon and in the field. So again, I wanted to see and understand what is working well and what are the challenges.<br /> <br /> I had a chance to visit Afghanistan, the opportunity to talk with soldiers from multiple states. The units that were on the ground at the time were doing amazing work—everything I would have expected. They’re out there working hard every day making us all proud and just doing a great job.<br /> <br /> Were you surprised by anything you saw or heard in your travels?<br /> <br /> I won’t say I was surprised. I expected to see our soldiers ingrained in the mission and working well with their counterparts on the left and right. I had never been to GTMO [Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the Guard is supporting detainee opera Tions], and to see the level of intensity that our soldiers operate at every day in that environment as well as a couple of other niche missions. I found it enlightening, not surprising necessarily, but enlightening. I’m really proud of our people and the way they accept the mission and the 110 percent that they give every day. Again, I’m very proud of everything that I saw.<br /> <br /> You have four decades in uniform.That gives you perspective on the evolution that has occurred in the Army National Guard over last generation or so. What is the state of the Army National Guard soldier today versus the Cold War and the years prior to 9/11?<br /> <br /> I think we’re more capable than we’ve ever been. We’ve got absolutely superb people that are intensely focused on the mission. Every soldier in the National Guard has enlisted or re-enlisted since 9/11, so their expectation is to deploy. And to deploy multiple times in their career—and they did that well—that’s why they joined the Guard. I think there’s always been a sense of patriotism, a sense of history about the Guard, but I think the soldiers that we have today are very well grounded.<br /> <br /> I don’t know how you would measure caliber, but the caliber of the soldier in today’s National Guard compared to when I joined is higher.We have some absolutely outstanding people that chose to wear the uniform.<br /> <br /> I know we’re held in much higher esteem by the American public today than we were three or four decades ago. I think people join for different reasons. Some of it’s a sense of history, some of it is a desire to serve, but I think we have more true patriots today than we had in the past.<br /> <br /> Obviously, resources make a difference and we were not particularly well resourced as a strategic reserve.As an operational reserve, soldiers are excited with the modern equipment, the weapons and the high tech gear, the whole kit. When I joined the Army National Guard, we had just changed from M-1 rifles to M-16s. Today, we have M-4s with combat optics that are superb weapons. It’s just different. It’s an evolution that didn’t happen overnight.<br /> It occurred only as more and more reliance was placed on the Guard.<br /> <br /> After Vietnam, the decision was made to never go to war again without the entire country going to war. What that meant was mobilizing the Guard and Reserve, and especially the Guard.It was called the Abrams Doctrine. It was implemented for Desert Shield/ Desert Storm and fully ingrained in our culture for Operation Enduring Freedom/ Operation Iraqi Freedom.<br /> <br /> Earlier this year the president and defense leaders shifted the National Military Strategy away from large-scale counterinsurgency and nation-building operations, two missions that have kept the Army National Guard busy the last 10-plus years.Where do you see the Army National Guard fitting into the new National Military Strategy?<br /> <br /> I think we’re going to fit side by side with the active Army. Again, from the last discussion, the Army can’t go to war without us. And if you’re preparing to go to war because the defense of the nation is Job One, then we have to work side by side with the active component. We’re the best manned, best trained, best equipped, best led and most experienced we’ve ever been in our 375-year history, and we need to keep it that way.<br /> <br /> We need to participate in exercises and ODT [overseas deployment for training] and we need to deploy occasionally, as our soldiers work their way through the green cycle of ARFORGEN [the Army Force Generation model]. Some portion of our force needs to go to the fight, or go to whatever is happening today. Whether it’s the warfight in Afghanistan, which is winding down, or the next large scale brigade-size deployment to Europe or to Korea, we need to be in the mix so that we don’t atrophy by sitting on the shelf and not being used.<br /> <br /> You mentioned Korea. You visited Korea as part of your travels. Do you foresee a day when we may Rotate an Army National Guard brigade into Korea to be part of the defense force there?<br /> <br /> I do. I think the Army is realizing— especially given the economic situation we’re in today—that activecomponent soldiers going to Korea for unaccompanied tours or with their families for accompanied tours is expensive. A Guard brigade combat team could rotate over for a six-month deployment and fall in on prepositioned equipment. It’s a course of action that makes some sense. I’m sure it’s being looked at now. It’s the same with a fires brigade or a sustainment brigade. Rotational missions in Kuwait and in Europe can easily be done by reserve-component forces.<br /> <br /> What must Army National Guard officers do to be ready for the way ahead?<br /> <br /> Obviously, we need to make sure that our officers have the opportunity to build on the experience they’ve already gained after a decade of war.We can’t turn that off. They need as many broadening experiences as we can make available to them. We need to develop adaptive, transformational, agile leaders so when the time comes either to deploy as part of a rotational force, or for whenever the next fight occurs, or for domestic operations inside the United States, our people have had that experience. You can only get so much out of a book. You have to go out there and put the training and education into practice.<br /> <br /> And our focus really needs to be at the company level. That experience as a company commander and for the platoon leaders, first sergeants and other noncommissioned officers— that’s where we make our money. For the last several years, we have been rotating officers and NCOs pretty quickly through what I consider developmental positions. In retrospect, maybe too quickly. It’s not a bad thing to be a captain for more than the minimum time in grade. It’s not a bad thing to be a major for more than the minimum time in grade. We spent more time between promotions in the past and that gave us the opportunity to really understand and experience how to operate at that level. And as we moved to the next level, it made us much better at mentoring subordinates.<br /> <br /> The active Army did the same thing and they’re really taking a hard look at their grade plate right now.We’re both realizing that we’re promoting people out of jobs. You get to the senior level and you really haven’t had all the experience you need to operate at that level. The Guard has always been a little slower promotionwise than the active side, but we’ve upped the tempo a bit in recent years.I think the expectations now should be that we want our soldiers to have more experience between promotions than we’ve had in the past. That’s not a bad thing. We’re a learning organization and every time we conduct operations or training experiences, we understand there are lessons learned and incorporating those lessons just makes us stronger.<br /> <br /> One of my first focus areas in this job was career management for our Title 10 force. We have been so focused on the force-provider mission that we haven’t really had a good internal look at our organization. We may not be structured exactly the way we need to be in our TDA [Table of Distribution and Allowances].<br /> We’ve really just filled vacancies lately instead of looking at the people and managing their careers. That’s a priority of mine internally for the Army National Guard.<br /> <br /> I think to get those appropriate experiences, especially those joint experiences we need to have as we move into the future, we need to have more interchangeability between people working at the federal level and those in the states. We want our Title 10 force to experience working in the state, holding an M-Day position as a full-time person. We want them to have a full-time position in the state and be assigned to a unit at a different location to get an understanding of the traditional Guardsman, so that the Title 10 force best represents our over 358,000 mostly traditional soldiers.<br /> <br /> Army National Guard equipment levels may be at their highest levels in history. Gone are the days when units would have problems responding to natural disasters in their own states. But some of the equipment is old or set for retirement, especially in the aviation arena. What is being done to modernize the Army National Guard aviation fleet, both fixed wing and rotary?<br /> <br /> I think we have benefited equipment- wise from the last decade at war. Actually, we are probably in the best shape we have ever been. Some of our equipment is older, but it’s not as old as it has been in the past. We have some UH-60 helicopters that need modernizing. The Army plans to modernize about 25 percent of our fleet with the newest model, the UH- 60M, by FY19. It’ll still leave about 300 older UH-60As. The Alpha conversion is obviously on our radar scope and we want to make that happen.<br /> <br /> In the fixed-wing fleet, we’ve got the largest number of fixed-wing that the Army operates—109 aircraft, as well as another 10 specially-fitted ISR [intelligence, surveillance and recon-Naissance] aircraft that are deployed.<br /> And with the planned retirement of the C-23s, the Sherpas, we’re likely going to downsize some in the aviation fleet.<br /> <br /> Another problem area is the Humvee fleet. Many of the vehicles are now older than the soldiers who drive them. The Army wants to end the Humvee recapitalization program and focus on the next-generation vehicle, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. How big of a challenge is this for the Army National Guard?<br /> <br /> It does present some current challenges because Humvees are a critical piece of our dual-use equipment.We’ve got about 100 percent of our Humvee requirement, but 24 percent are the old ones that you are talking about. They are more than 20 years old. Procurement stopped in 2010, so we’re not buying any more Humvees.We are recapping some of them with FY11 funding. We’ve recapitalized about 800, and that leaves less than 4,500 that require recapitalization or replacement, but there is no funding.<br /> <br /> We expect the Guard will be equipped with the JLTV proportionally with the active component. That will allow legacy Humvees, the really old ones, to be phased out. It is a judicial use of money. We don’t need to spend money on a lot of vehicles that we expect to turn in as we are fielded with the JLTV. And we do not really need more up-armored Humvees, which are not necessarily a plus when we are doing domestic ops. So, the vehicles that we have on hand, as long as the fielding of the next generation comes in a timely way, will be OK.<br /> <br /> If the JLTV is pushed way to the right, or if they are fielded late to the Guard, then we are going to have some problems. Similar to the problems we had with deuce-and-a-half trucks in the past, parts will not be available through the system and we will have difficulty [maintaining these vehicles].It just depends on JTLV fielding. We’re OK for now, and we’re OK into the near future, but the longer this gets strung out, the more difficult it will be to deal with the old Humvees.<br /> <br /> Suicide continues to be an issue in the Army National Guard, really across the Total Army. What is your take on this problem and what is being done across the organization to confront the issue?<br /> <br /> Suicide is an Army National Guard problem. It is also an Army problem. But really it is an American problem. Suicide rates in the military services are still less than in the civilian population. As citizen-soldiers, we have difficulty determining if the suicide was committed by the civilian or soldier. Either way, it’s absolutely heartbreaking when you think about it—a person has taken their own life.One suicide is too many.<br /> <br /> The Army as a whole is taking this all as a challenge. It started when General Pete Chiarelli was the vice [chief of staff of the Army]. He took that as a personal project and he made tremendous progress. Last year, we experienced 99 suicides. Although this was less than we had in 2010, but we still have a long way to go. We established a Master Resilience Trainer Training Center at Ft. McCoy, Wis. We will train over 1,400 MRTs this year, adding to the 570 that we already have. They oversee the programs in their units. The baseline requirement for us is a little over 3,500. And again, the MRTs will train and certify resilience trainer assistants and our goal is to produce 1,800 master resilience trainer assistants nationwide.<br /> <br /> We’ve rolled out Vets for Warriors [1-855-VET-TALK], a national peeroutreach program for all reserve-component service members, regardless of status, with 24/7 access to comprehensive, nonclinical peer counseling and support. Beginning at accession when soldiers swear in at the MEPS [Military Entrance Processing Station], the psychological strength of each individual will be assessed using the global assessment tool.<br /> <br /> To date, over 300,000 of our soldiers have completed the global assessment tool. To date, for 2012, we’re roughly on pace for the 2009 [number of suicides], which was considerably less than 2010. 2010 was our high point. I think awareness is up.We can’t measure where intervention took place and someone did not commit suicide that may have contemplated it. So I think we’re working very hard to lower the number of soldiers that are suicide prone.<br /> <br /> Unemployment is another problem in the ranks. What would you say to an employer who is concerned about hiring a Guardsman and then losing that employee for an extended period of time due to a deployment?<br /> <br /> I think that experience will just make him/her a much better employee for that employer. I spent 27 years in the private sector as an employer, and I would be happy to hire a Guardsman. Of course, I know both sides of the picture. It’s easy to recommend a Guardsman. You get a well-groomed, physically fit, drugfree person who shows up on time, is ready do whatever is required, is ready to take responsibility and wants to move forward. Guardsmen make great employees.