WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Guard Association of the United States today released the following statement by retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr., the NGAUS president:
"National Guard leaders across the country applaud Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta's new defense strategy and its continued reliance on the National Guard as an operational force.
"This is critical to the nation's future. America faces an evolving set of future security challenges around the globe. A pivot in defense strategy is necessary, but it must be accomplished under fiscal constraints the likes of which none of us have seen in our lifetimes.
"Here is where the Guard is a real solution. We offer accessible and rapidly deployable units that are battle tested in nearly all of the missions identified in the new strategy. And these formations―as well as their armories and bases―are maintained at a fraction of the cost of their active-component counterparts.
"Our personnel also offer a wealth of military experience and civilian skills that offer priceless value to the country, both in combat operations and in their role at home as the military's first responder during a domestic crisis.
"But just as important, National Guard units are spread over more than 3,000 communities nationwide, so they uniquely connect the American public with defense decisions and military actions.
"Yesterday, we watched with great interest the announcement of the Defense Department's fiscal 2013 budget priorities. Secretary Panetta's clear intent is to continue leveraging National Guard experience, capability and value in daily operations and as a hedge against unforeseen contingencies. Specifically, we noted that he used the word 'balanced' to describe reductions within the Total Air Force.
"We eagerly await the Army and Air Force's rollout of their specific plans under the new strategy. We, and many in Congress, trust that the National Guard Bureau was a full partner in each service's final deliberations and that Army and Air Force budget details will match Secretary Panetta's vision."
About NGAUS: The association includes nearly 45,000 current or former Guard officers. It was created in 1878 to provide unified representation in Washington. In their first productive meeting after Reconstruction, militia officers from the North and South formed the association with the goal of obtaining better equipment and training by educating Congress on militia needs. Today, 134 years later, the militia is known as the National Guard, but NGAUS has the same mission.
Internet Availability: This document and other Guard and NGAUS news and information are available at www.ngaus.org.
SOURCE National Guard Association of the U.S.