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Full spectrum of capabilities needed for Guard missions 
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Army Maj. Gen. Peter M. Aylward, the director of the National Guard Bureau Joint Staff, speaks to conferees at the NGB Domestic Operations Conference March 3, 2009 in Baltimore, Md. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Sean McCollum, National Guard Bureau) (Released)
By Sgt. S. Patrick McCollum, National Guard Bureau 

BALTIMORE, Md. - Living up to the National Guard’s motto of “Always Ready, Always There” requires a full spectrum of capabilities, a senior National Guard official told an audience here at the Domestic Operations Conference today.

“How do you take things that work in our community and make them sustaining programs of record? That’s the challenge,” said Army Maj. Gen. Peter M. Aylward, the director of the National Guard Bureau’s Joint Staff.

In addition to the Guard’s traditional role responding to natural disasters, it must be flexible enough to respond to threats such as weapons of mass destruction.

Being flexible, he said, is key to fighting an enemy that fights unconventionally.

“The rules we use are written in black and white,” Aylward said. “Our adversaries are not governed by those black-and-white rules. They hide in shades of gray.”

He added that citizen-Soldiers and –Airmen are uniquely suited for any mission.
Depending on the threat, Guardmembers can ratchet up their readiness from traditional duty, to being called up by their state, and if necessary federally activated.

Guard members from California, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Texas shared their experiences during recent state call-ups with their counterparts at the conference.

“The people of this nation depend on the Guard to help them no matter what,” said Army Maj. Gen. Stephen F. Villacorta, the U.S. Northern Command liaison to the Chief, National Guard Bureau.

NORTHCOM’s main area of responsibility, he said, is the continental United States, and coordination with state and local authorities as well as the National Guard is essential for success.

“This coordination occurs every day, and with respect to NORTHCOM, National Guard Bureau and the states, has significantly increased over the past two years.”

Villacorta said this partnership will continue to grow. “NORTHCOM is seeking to expand its partnership with NGB and the states to make our job easier when it comes time to respond to an event,” he said.

Air Force Maj. Gen. William H. Etter, the director of domestic operations for the National Guard Bureau, stressed the workshop aspect of the conference.

“You go to a conference and people speak at you and they do that again and again and again,” he said. “At a workshop, there is constant dialogue and you solve problems.”