Guard to forge transformation goals

Asserting that the National Guard must mirror the armed services in efforts to transform into a modern fighting force, the Guard's new commanding general has called a weekend meeting of regional commanders to plot the Guard's transformational goals

Army Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, who took the helm as chief of the National Guard Bureau last month, said the Guard must get back to its roots of being a citizen army that can respond to a threat at a moment's notice.

"The National Guard can't remain the way it is," Blum said today. "We must transform for future threats. The world will not sit still and the National Guard cannot sit still, either."

Blum said the Army and Air National Guards are at a critical juncture in their histories and need to work closely with the other armed services in order to follow in their transformational footsteps.

To that end, Blum said he is calling a meeting of his 54 regional National Guard commanders this weekend to discuss the Guard's transformational goals and craft a road map on how to achieve them. The 54 commanders represent the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and three U.S. territories.

Blum said the first order of business will be to eliminate 108 National Guard headquarters, cutting the total number of headquarters by two-thirds. Currently, there is a different headquarters for the National Guard, the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard within each state and territory. That, he said, creates "too much overhead, waste and bloat."

Following that, the National Guard will have to ensure joint interoperability with the other services — a difficult task, according to Blum.

"The Army National Guard will transform as the Army does and the Air National Guard will transform as the Air Force does," he said. "But I have to ensure interoperability in a completely joint arena."

Blum said he is working closely with the other services to ensure the National Guard's inclusion and input in the other services' information technology transformational efforts.

"We work with them at every level," he said. "We make sure the National Guard is included in the decision boards' membership. We take part in the strategy studies and think tanks. The National Guard is a real team player, and we're all professionals who can sit down and have no parochial thoughts about the outcome."

"We want to build the best [IT] capabilities we can from the resources we have," he added.

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