JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. - Fighting our nation's wars, defending the homeland and building partnerships were among many topics addressed by Army General Frank J. Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau, at a town hall meeting with Air Guard members and civilians Wednesday at the Air National Guard Readiness Center.
"The mission we do every day in support of the warfight and the homeland is who we are, dating back almost 378 years," he said. "Our enduring relationships with interagency partners and nations around the world, is something nobody else can match."
The chief of the NGB also praised the Total Air Force.
"I don't think I've ever seen a time where the relationship between Air Force, Air Guard and Air Force Reserve was ever stronger," he observed. "It's really being driven by the two people at the top: Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and my good friend (General) Mark Welsh."
"Ultimately," he added, "it would not work without all of the work you are doing. It is very noticeable."
Grass shared the National Guard Bureau's four strategic priorities: provide trained and ready operational troops; be good stewards of our resources; sustain the National Guard community; and forge and maintain partnerships.
Grass noted that the National Guard must ensure tax payer dollars are used wisely. He also cautioned that the Budget Control Act could result in a crippling 13% decrease, from a high point of $27.6 billion in 2011 to $24 billion in 2016.
"The anticipated return of BCA in 2016 will impact all of us," he emphasized. "Issues still exist in maintaining a combat-capable Air National Guard," noting potential shortcomings in modernization, recapitalization and readiness.
Grass also discussed ethical issues facing our service members and our military. Regarding such issues as sexual assault and sexual harassment he asked service members for their help.
"When you see it, take action. The people who commit these crimes discredit us all," Grass said.
While some of the town hall addressed issues facing the National Guard, Grass also made certain to highlight outstanding Air Guard contributions. The CNGB recognized the following directorates: Personnel (A1) for exceeding recruiting and retention end-strength; Intelligence (A2) for their "great work" across the ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) enterprise, much of which is classified; Operations (A3) for exceeding 1 million flying hours since 9-11; Plans / Requirements (A5) for establishing the first annual Domestic Capability Priorities practice response; Communications (A6) for completing the Secure Internet Protocol Router (SIPR) Defense Enterprise Email migration; Civil Engineering (A7) for their Sustainment Restoration and Modernization program that executed $385 million in cost-saving improvements; and Plans / Programs (A8) for providing funding justification and being the "backbone" of the Air Guard. Finally, the CNGB also recognized the Medical directorate (SG) for their psychological health program focused on a resilient force, and Financial Management (FM) for ensuring 99.9% of funds were properly spent in FY14.