An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Article View
NEWS | Aug. 21, 2023

Senior Army Leader Lays Out His Vision, and How Guard Fits

By Sgt. 1st Class Zach Sheely, National Guard Bureau

RENO, Nev. – The Army’s senior leader conveyed his perspective on the state of the Army, his vision for its future and how the National Guard — one of its two reserve components — fits into the current environment Aug. 20.

First, Army Gen. Randy A. George, the Army’s vice chief of staff and nominee to lead the service, shared how essential the National Guard is to the Army.

“The Army Guard is nearly 40% of our operational force,” George told an annual meeting of National Guard leaders. “We don’t go anywhere with only 60% of our team. We’re going to need everybody. I’m used to that because that’s what I’ve seen over the last 20 years.”

Since 9/11, more than 1 million Guardsmen have deployed overseas to theaters, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

In April, George, who served in the Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom operations, was nominated to become the Army’s top officer. He shared his latest impressions of the Guard from a recent visit to Camp Grayling, Michigan — his first trip as nominative CSA — to observe exercise Northern Strike.

“What I saw up there was super impressive and very refreshing,” George said. “I was impressed, but I wasn’t surprised because every time I’ve deployed, I’ve had National Guard Soldiers right there inside my formations.”

Northern Strike, held annually during the winter and summer, is one of the Guard’s premier training events designed to validate the readiness of the Joint Force. Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, also visited Camp Grayling this month and called it an “incredible, complex training environment.”

George was commissioned as an Army officer from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1988 and warned the current environment — with Russia’s brutal war on Ukraine, and the Indo-Pacific region, with China as the United States’ pacing threat — is as complex and dangerous as he has seen in his time in service.

“The character of war has changed over the last two years,” he said. “We talk about Europe. We talk about the Pacific. Our Army is global, and we’re going to have to be ready to go wherever we need to go.

“Wherever we go, it’s going to be a multi-component solution. It has always been that way. And it will continue to be and probably increasingly so.”

The National Defense Strategy names allies and partners as crucial to America’s integrated deterrence efforts. In July, hundreds of Guard leaders and international counterparts marked 30 years of the Department of Defense National Guard State Partnership Program during a two-day conference in the National Capital Region.

The SPP, established in 1993, now boasts security cooperation agreements between the National Guard of every state, territory and the District of Columbia and 100 countries on every continent but Antarctica and in every U.S. geographic combatant command.

“I’ve had a lot of experience with and seen the power of the state partnerships,” George said. “They are very, very powerful for our country, not just our military.”

Enduring partnerships are just one way the Joint Force can deter aggression. George outlined his four focus areas for the Army: warfighting, delivering ready combat formations, undergoing continuous transformation and strengthening the profession of arms.

As the combat reserve of the Army, the National Guard exists and is largely funded to fight and win the nation’s wars, aligning with Army and DOD core missions.

“If there’s something you’re doing that’s not contributing to you being more lethal and cohesive, then we’ve got to take a hard look at if we should be doing it,” George told Guard leaders. “What we want are trained, fit, disciplined, cohesive and lethal teams. We are here to fight; that’s why we have a U.S. Army.”

To build, maintain and measure Soldiers’ fitness, the Army developed the new Army Combat Fitness Test. George and the Army’s senior enlisted leader favor keeping the ACFT as the Army’s fitness test of record.

“I like the ACFT,” George said. “We’ve learned a lot in the last 20, 30, 40 years. The science is a lot better.”

“We’re absolutely staying with the ACFT,” said Michael R. Weimer, sergeant major of the Army. “We are changing the culture of fitness in the total Army and it’s a journey. We’re staying the course.”

George said delivering ready combat formations is another Army imperative, and it starts at the lowest level.

“We must reinforce commanders at every level and give them the authorities that they need,” he said. “We need to make sure they have different resources to manage different challenges.”

To be ready to answer the nation’s call, George said the Army must be agile and adaptable to undergo continuous transformation. He cited Ukraine as an example.

“The battlefield is changing and changing quickly with unmanned systems, unmanned aerial systems and counter unmanned aerial systems,” he said. “We’re going to have to change how we do business.

“We want lean, mobile, variable formations at the brigade level and below.”

Part of George’s vision requires Soldiers to focus on and strengthen their profession.

“This underpins everything that we do,” George said. “We’ve got to get after discipline and standards. These are the foundations of success in battle. You don’t just turn a switch on when you deploy. You build that inside your unit when you train. That is not something you can just decide to do.”

George recognized Guardsmen are asked to do a lot. About 85% of Army Guardsmen serve part-time, balancing service with civilian careers and family responsibilities.

“I’m really proud of the National Guard,” he said. “The Army is busy as ever and the Guard is busy as ever. You are important and valuable members of your community; that’s a strength I certainly value.”

A percentage of Guardsmen serve in uniform full-time, on long-term Active Guard/Reserve orders, temporary operational support orders, or as dual-status technicians. George turned to Army Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen, director of the Army National Guard, to elaborate on the Army Guard’s full-time manning challenges.

“When you look at our full-time manning model, which pre-dates 9/11, what we were asked to do, pre-9/11, is significantly different than what we were asked to do in the last 20 years or in the last couple of years,” Jensen said.

“I’m convinced the pre-9/11 model doesn’t fit the post-9/11 Army,” he said. “The Army is going to be all three components going forward. We need the whole Army to do what our nation is asking us to do. We have to take a very hard look at the full-time manning model.”

Another challenge facing all military services is recruiting new men and women to fill formations.

“We’re trying to figure out how we can maintain our standards — and we’re going to — and how to get people in,” George said. “I think it’s important we all tell our story about why we’re in the military. I joined because I couldn’t afford to go to college.

“We’re all in this together,” he said. “We want an all-volunteer Army. That’s what has made us great over the last 50 years. But if anyone has any ideas, we’re all ears.”

George acknowledged the Senate’s hold on military promotions but said it would not detract the Army, or its components, from the mission.

“You always want to field a full team,” George said. “I’m concerned about the impact this will have on people wanting to stay. And I’m concerned about the families.

“What I’m confident about, though, is the Army is really good at figuring out how to get things done,” he said. “It will be nice to get this behind us so we can field a full team. In the meantime, we’re going to get after it.”



Related Articles
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen leads a panel, “Director of the U.S. Army National Guard Seminar: The Next Greatest Generation is Now!” with four Army National Guard general officers Oct. 10, 2023, at the AUSA 2023 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington.
Army Guard Leaders Emphasize Modernization, Partnerships, Messaging
By Capt. Jamie Mason, | Oct. 17, 2023
WASHINGTON - Army National Guard Soldiers and leaders joined together this week in Washington for the 2023 annual Association of the United States Army meeting and exposition. The three-day event included panels led by Lt...

Army Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen, director of the Army National Guard, addresses attendees at the 145th National Guard Association of the United States General Conference, Reno, Nevada, Aug. 20, 2023. Jensen said the Army National Guard is the best it's ever been.
Lt. Gen. Jensen: Army National Guard Better Than Ever
By Capt. James Mason, | Aug. 28, 2023
RENO, Nev. – Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen, the 22nd director of the Army National Guard, says the Army Guard is the best it’s ever been.Jensen, who has commanded at the company, battalion, brigade and division levels since...

Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen, right, director of the Army National Guard, speaks with more than 250 Army Guard officers and senior noncommissioned officers at the annual Army National Guard G1 Military Personnel Office workshop in Orlando, Florida, May 2-4, 2023. The conference marked the first time the group has met in person since before the COVID-19 pandemic began three years ago.
Army Guard Personnel Officers Focus on Soldiers at Symposium
By Capt. James Mason, | May 12, 2023
ORLANDO, Fla. – The Army National Guard hosted its annual G1 Military Personnel Office conference May 2-4, marking the first time the group had met in person since before the COVID-19 pandemic began over three years ago.Lt...