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NEWS | March 11, 2014

SECDEF: National Guard vital to national security

By Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON - The National Guard is vital to national security, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told the Senate Armed Services Committee March 7.

"The National Guard and the Reserves are going to continue to be a vital part of … the national security enterprise," Hagel said during a hearing on the 2015 defense budget.

Hagel noted the unique dual role of the National Guard, which - unlike any other part of the Armed Forces - answers to the president for federal missions and to the governors for state or territorial needs.

"The Guard today is a different Guard," Hagel said. "They did a tremendous job in Iraq, in Afghanistan.

"The National Guard and the Reserves in our force structure posture remains a critical part of … our future national security. … The National Guard's and Reserve's future is critical to the interests of this country. … National Guard and Reserve units will remain a vibrant part of our national defense."

Hagel also discussed the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review - a legislatively-mandated review of Department of Defense strategy and priorities - in his Senate testimony.

The 2014 QDR's strategic priorities - which Hagel called "America's highest security interests" -- include defending the homeland, building security globally, deterring aggression and being ready and capable to win decisively against any adversary, Hagel told Congress.

"Across America's 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia, the National Guard does three things extraordinarily well," said Army Gen. Frank Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau. "Fight America's wars, protect the homeland and build global and domestic partnerships."

In 2012, the position of chief of the National Guard Bureau was elevated to statutory membership of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"The … voice of the National Guard is very clearly heard on all matters," Hagel told senators.