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 | Feb. 9, 2024

National Guard Bureau Leaders Say Taking Care of Guardsmen Key to Meeting Mission at Home, Abroad

By xxxJoseph Clark, DOD News

WASHINGTON - Army Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said that as the global security landscape has become increasingly complex, the National Guard continues to fill its role as an indispensable warfighting force while at the same time responding in times of crisis at home.

“With an aggressive China asserting influence in the Indo-Pacific and around the globe, a belligerent Russia invading a peaceful neighbor, North Korea developing long-range offensive weapons, and numerous violent nonstate actors at work in the Middle East and beyond, the mission of the National Guard and the capabilities we bring to the fight have never been more important,” Hokanson said during a briefing at the Pentagon.

Hokanson and Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chief of the National Guard Bureau Tony L. Whitehead laid out the National Guard’s priorities for 2024. 

The leaders underscored the impact the Soldiers and Airmen who comprise the force have every day across the globe and in their communities.  

“To be clear, our National Guard exists to fight and win our nation’s wars,” Hokanson said. “That is the primary mission for our 430,000 Soldiers and Airmen across all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia.” 

He added that those warfighters bring critical capabilities to the fight across domains and in theaters worldwide.  

“We do everything from deploying combat formations around the globe to missile defense of the homeland, protecting cyberspace, and conducting space operations — and, at the same time, we respond to disasters in our communities,” Hokanson said. “Today, nearly 45,000 Army and Air Guardsmen are mobilized performing missions in support of our combatant commanders, and more than 27,000 of them are serving overseas.”

“Simply put: America cannot execute its National Defense Strategy without the National Guard,” he said.

Hokanson said the National Guard’s warfighting capabilities have been on full display over the past year, highlighting a recent trip to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility where he met with Ukrainian troops training with National Guardsmen.  

“They were just the latest of over 7,500 Soldiers from 19 different Ukrainian battalions receiving training from our [National] Guardsmen,” he said.  

He noted that the Mississippi National Guard recently replaced the Arkansas National Guard in continuing to build Ukraine’s combat capability amid Russia’s ongoing invasion.

In addition to maintaining its warfighting focus, the Guard continues to fulfill its critical humanitarian mission in communities throughout the nation.  

“As you see in the headlines from California this week, the National Guard is making a difference and helping save lives in our communities every single day,” he said. “In the National Guard, this is business as usual. Our communities expect it, and so do we.” 

Both leaders noted National Guard members and their families’ sacrifices to meet the mission.

Whitehead said he remains focused on ensuring service members have access to the resources they need to remain resilient. That includes efforts to reduce the stigma that surrounds seeking mental health services.  

“Deployed service members often face traumatic experiences and daily struggles, which can adversely affect their mental health,” he said. “These experiences may not show their effects until the service member returns home and tries adjusting back to their everyday lives.”

Whitehead said he remains committed to ensuring all National Guardsmen who face traumatic experiences as part of their service receive the assistance they need.

Hokanson said supporting those on the front lines is foundational to the National Guard meeting its mission.  

“Our leaders wake up each day ever mindful of the responsibility to ensure our more than 430,000 National Guardsmen are the best-trained and most ready combat reserve our nation can muster,” Hokanson said. “By taking care of our people, maintaining our readiness, modernizing, and embracing reform, we will do just that and continue to keep our promise to America to be ‘always ready, always there.’” 

The dedication and sacrifice by the women and men who meet that mission day in and day out became tragically clear last month when a deadly drone attack launched by an Iran-backed militant group against U.S. forces in Jordan killed three service members and injured dozens more.  

Among those injured in the attack were 41 National Guard members, 30 of whom have been cleared to return to active duty.  

Hokanson and Whitehead expressed their deepest sympathies to the families of those killed and injured in the attack. 

“It is a reminder the National Guard serves alongside our active-duty and reserve teammates on the front lines as an operational force in a turbulent and ever-changing global security environment,” Hokanson said.

 

 

Related Articles
Chief Master Sgt. Mikael Sundin, senior enlisted advisor to the director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, talks about security cooperation and NCO development during the State Partnership Program Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 17, 2024.
Guard Leaders Stress NCOs Role in State Partnership Program
By Sgt. 1st Class Elizabeth Pena, | May 3, 2024
LAS VEGAS – Developing NCOs has long been a strategy in the U.S. military to build capability and maintain readiness by providing the education and training required to operate in complex environments.While the professional...

A B-2 Spirit stealth bomber assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing takes off at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 15, 2024. Team Whiteman executed a mass fly-over of 12 B-2 Spirit stealth bombers to cap off the annual Spirit Vigilance exercise.
Team Whiteman Demonstrates Readiness During Spirit Vigilance
By Phillip Stuart, | April 23, 2024
The 509th and 131st Bomb Wings capped off the most recent iteration of exercise Spirit Vigilance by performing a mass fly-off of 12 B-2 Spirit stealth bombers April 15 at Whiteman AFB...

A dozen Citizen-Soldiers from Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosive response teams recently completed a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers qualification course at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, on operating unmanned aviation systems, enabling the Army National Guard members to fly the R80D Skyraider, pictured here. The systems provide live digital video and employ onboard sensors to relay environmental conditions while mitigating the need to put Soldiers in harm’s way.
Army Guard Elevates Disaster Response with UAS Training
By National Guard Bureau Office of Public Affairs | April 18, 2024
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – In preparation for the direst of days on the homeland front, a dozen Citizen-Soldiers recently enhanced their technical acumen on unmanned aviation systems after completing a U.S. Army Corps of...