National Guard May 2011 : Page 28

Adm. Mike Mullen Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. J G James E E. Ct Cartwright i ht Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mti G Martin E E. Dempsey D Chief of Staff of the Army Adm. Gary Roughead Chief of Naval Operations The Value of One More Chair By Ron Jensen Former National Guard Bureau chiefs say homeland security and many other missions would benefit from a Guard seat on the JCS ITH MORE THAN a half trillion dollars to spend each year, the Defense De-partment surely can afford one more chair at the table where the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) meet. If Congress gets behind a bill that would elevate the chief of the National Guard Bureau to full Joint Chiefs status, the Pentagon just might have to go furniture shopping. But no one should plan a visit to the store any time soon. W “There’s going to be a lot of push-back from the Joint Chiefs and the chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] and possibly the secretary of defense,” predicts retired Lt. Gen. John B. Con-away, who was NGB chief from 1990 to 1993. Nothing which has the ramifica-tions of this move gets done in Wash-ington, D.C., without opposition. And the active components have friends on Capitol Hill, too. After all, it took years for the Guard Bureau chief to pin on a fourth star, which is something of a prerequisite for this move. That fourth star allows the NGB chief to attend the meetings, but he is not a principle in the discus-sions and he doesn’t have a vote. He also cannot nominate Guardsmen to positions that require Senate confir-mation. But ask a former Guard Bureau chief about the issue you’re likely to get a quick response. “In a word, it’s absolutely essential for the 21st-century National Guard to be [fully] represented at that level,” says retired Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, who was chief from April 2003 to November 2008. “This would help the National Guard and the states,” says Conaway. 28 | Na tional Guard

The Value of One More Chair

Ron Jensen

Former National Guard Bureau chiefs say homeland security and many other missions would benefit from a Guard seat on the JCS<br /> <br /> WITH MORE THAN a half trillion dollars to spend each year, the Defense Department surely can afford one more chair at the table where the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) meet.<br /> <br /> If Congress gets behind a bill that would elevate the chief of the National Guard Bureau to full Joint Chiefs status, the Pentagon just might have to go furniture shopping.<br /> <br /> But no one should plan a visit to the store any time soon.<br /> <br /> "There's going to be a lot of pushback from the Joint Chiefs and the chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] and possibly the secretary of defense," predicts retired Lt. Gen. John B. Conaway, who was NGB chief from 1990 to 1993.<br /> <br /> Nothing which has the ramifications of this move gets done in Washington, D.C., without opposition.<br /> <br /> And the active components have friends on Capitol Hill, too. After all, it took years for the Guard Bureau chief to pin on a fourth star, which is something of a prerequisite for this move. That fourth star allows the NGB chief to attend the meetings, but he is not a principle in the discussions and he doesn't have a vote. He also cannot nominate Guardsmen to positions that require Senate confirmation.<br /> <br /> But ask a former Guard Bureau chief about the issue you're likely to get a quick response.<br /> <br /> In a word, it's absolutely essential for the 21st-century National Guard to be [fully] represented at that level, says retired Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, who was chief from April 2003 to November 2008.<br /> <br /> "This would help the National Guard and the states," says Conaway.<br /> <br /> The Joint Chiefs of Staff was established by the National Security Act of 1947. It began with four permanent members: the chiefs of staff of the Army and Air Force, the Navy's chief of naval operations and a chairman. The Marine Corps commandant was consulted on matters related to the Corps, but was not a full voting member until the late 1970s. A vice chairman was added later.<br /> <br /> Its role also has evolved over the years. Following the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, the JCS does not have operational command authority, but it does have responsibility for planning, training and readiness, as well as personnel policy and resourcing.<br /> <br /> In those areas, say former NGB chiefs, a seat at the table would be a positive boost for the men and women of the Guard, as well as the country.<br /> <br /> As the chiefs of staff talk, Blum says, they are educating each other on what each service needs and can contribute. And only the six permanent members have a vote.<br /> <br /> "They really don't know the issues like the chief of the Guard Bureau would," he says. "They don't know the nuances of those issues."<br /> <br /> Conaway says the Guard needs a seat mainly because of its Title 32 mission. That would give the states and the governors real representation when determining how domestic missions will be resourced.<br /> <br /> "The thrust has got to be, 'We've got to have a seat at the table because of the homeland security mission,'" Conaway says. "The governors need a voice. They are the state commanders in chief."<br /> <br /> For missions like Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or something similar to the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan in March, the Guard Bureau chief is the subject matter expert, he says.<br /> <br /> "If I was the chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff], I'd want him on there," Conaway says.<br /> <br /> Retired Lt. Gen. Russ Davis, who was bureau chief from August 1998 to August 2002, notes that practical considerations are missed when the Guard's perspective is left out of the discussion and vote.<br /> <br /> "They make key decisions on what the requirements are and what equipment is needed," he says. "They make these decisions with no input from the Guard."<br /> <br /> The result, he says, is the Army will buy equipment that is ill suited for the Guard. Or, he says, "They'll buy it and say you have go to school 12 weeks [to learn to operate it]. 'Sorry, guys, we don't have 12 weeks.'"<br /> <br /> Davis says it is much easier to present the Guard point of view during the initial discussion and vote rather than later after decisions have been made.<br /> <br /> "If I'm in the room, I can always find some support for my position," he says. "If I'm not in [the room] . . . ."<br /> <br /> Asked if having a seat with the Joint Chiefs would have benefited him as NGB chief, Conaway quickly says, "Oh, definitely. Plenty of times."<br /> <br /> He tells of the riots in Los Angeles in April 1992 after four white policemen were acquitted of a videotaped beating of a black man. More than 50 people died and damages were put at $1 billion.<br /> <br /> Conaway says he tried to reach Gen. Colin Powell, who was JCS chairman. He wanted to tell Powell not to mobilize federal troops. Conaway failed to reach Powell and the chairman sent Marines to the scene. "If I had been on the Joint Chiefs,<br /> <br /> I could have argued the points as to why that should not be done," Conaway says.<br /> <br /> As it turned out, the relationship between the Marines and the officials of the Los Angeles police and sheriff's departments was testy and inefficient, which is what Conaway knew would happen.<br /> <br /> Blum, too, says a chair at the table would have benefited him "every single day," he says.<br /> <br /> He says his input at the highest level would have been a benefit during the response to Hurricane Katrina, when troops from the 82nd Airborne Division arrived on the Gulf Coast with little knowledge of the area or disaster relief.<br /> <br /> Blum points out, too, that when the Marines were added to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the late 1970s, it gave the Navy two votes. Having the Army Guard and Air Guard represented by the chief would be like giving two votes to the Army and Air Force.<br /> <br /> They should "wake up and smell the coffee," Blum says. "This isn't a one-way deal."<br /> <br /> One former bureau chief with an interesting perspective is retired Lt. Gen. Herb Temple. His tenure was from August 1986 to January 1990, ending just three months after the Berlin Wall fell.<br /> <br /> Asked if being on the same level as the Joint Chiefs would have benefited him, Temple says, "I doubt it. During my period, I don't think it would have had any dramatic effect."<br /> <br /> During his time as chief, the nation was worried about a major war with the Soviet Union and nuclear annihilation. Now, however, with the Soviet Union banished to history and a new type of threat at the door, the elevation of the bureau chief would be a benefit.<br /> <br /> "After 9/11, there were a lot of missteps in bringing the Guard in and how they used them," he says, all of which would have been avoided had the Bureau chief been a full voting member of the JCS.<br /> <br /> The same thing happened, he says, during Operation Desert Shield/Storm. The Guard would have been better used had it had a vote at the top.<br /> <br /> Temple says having the Guard represented on the Joint Chiefs level goes beyond equipping and personnel issues.<br /> <br /> "It's not so much what [the chief] does for the Guard," he says. "It's 'What are the national security implications?' And I think they are profound."<br /> <br /> He says there are "54 other governments out there" and each has its own contribution to make to America's security. People in the nation's capital, he says, often don't realize that national security issues are determined in the state capitals.<br /> <br /> Davis says he survived and forged good relationships with people who had more influence than him. He could request a meeting with the chairman and get it. That helped, he says.<br /> <br /> And Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the current Guard Bureau chief, has good relationships with Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the other chiefs of staff, Davis says.<br /> <br /> "Relationships are nice, but personalities can't be the controlling factor in how things work," he says.<br /> <br /> The next chief and the next chairman may not get along. The nation and the Guard shouldn't suffer for it.<br /> <br /> Plus, he says, with the wars possibly winding down in Iraq and Afghanistan, the temptation will be to put the Guard back to its pre-9/11 role as a strategic reserve. Davis says this is worrisome.<br /> <br /> "What about when we cut back on the budget? Are they going to take the Guard's money?" he wonders.<br /> <br /> A full-voting Guard representative in the tank would have a significant impact on the role the Guard plays in the future, says Davis, who sees a need for a continuing role for both the Guard and Reserve in the years ahead.<br /> <br /> So will it happen? The Guardians of Freedom Act was introduced in the Senate three months ago. NGAUS supports the bill.<br /> <br /> The arguments are clear. The Guard has made it possible for the nation to fight two wars at the same time for nearly a decade. It has protected the homeland in the air and on the ground. It has made itself indispensable for the nation's security. That's an easy case to make on Capitol Hill.<br /> <br /> "I think you've got congressional support for this you wouldn't have gotten before," says Temple. Davis says, "I think it'll get done. It may not get done this time. Just like anything else in this city, it just takes time."<br /> <br /> Blum says, "It doesn't have any money attached to it, so it should be an easy thing to do."<br /> <br /> He uses Katrina as an example. The Guard had 78,000 soldiers and airmen overseas, but responded to the hurricane with 50,000 troops. Every community in America has "skin" in the Guard. It is shopkeepers and farmers and teachers and lawyers and every other job and profession you could name.<br /> <br /> Why, Blum wonders, is that organization not at the table already?<br /> <br /> "A really enlightened secretary of defense and a really enlightened chairman . . . would make that happen," he says. "Why in the hell would anyone object?"<br /> <br /> Ron Jensen can be contacted at (202) 408-5885 or at ron.jensen@ngaus.org.

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