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National Guard's Overseas Training

July 08, 1986

Recently some members of the California Legislature have questioned the wisdom and authority of the governor to send members of the National Guard overseas for training. These legislators ignore the fact that today's Total Force requirements place more responsibility on America's Reserve Forces than ever before. For the first time in its 350 years, the Guard is accepted as a full partner in national defense; and with this comes a tremendous responsibility, as well as added strength, funds and equipment. The nation's current defense posture, for example, relies on the Army National Guard for 100% of our nation's light anti-tank infantry battalions, 10% of our infantry scout troops and 100% of our heavy helicopter companies. America's Total Force posture also looks to our Air National Guard for 78% of the strategic interceptor forces on this continent, 72% of our aircraft control and warning units and 66% of America's combat communications units.

Critics of overseas training also fail to realize that the National Guard is assigned a dual mission. The Pentagon establishes readiness requirements which the Guard must meet in the event of a national emergency, and units can be ordered to federal service by the President. Until a federal mobilization occurs, however, California's governor controls the Guard through his adjutant general. The governor can use the Guard's personnel and equipment during state emergencies, disasters or disorders in support of civil authority and has often done so. Both the state and nation benefit from the expertise of the National Guard. Under this dual mission, 94% of the California Military Department's $310-million budget is U.S.-financed, while only 6% is state-funded. Since California gains more in revenue from taxes on federal Guard earnings than it pays for its portion of the Guard program, California actually makes money from the Guard.

These same legislators would have the public believe that members of the California National Guard should not be involved in costly overseas deployment training. Yet combat veterans have maintained that one of the main reasons we lost so many people in Vietnam was the lack of realistic training in a tactical setting.

One must remember that volunteerism is the essence of the National Guard's citizen-soldier heritage. Like previous militiamen, today's volunteers join the Guard because they want to, not to avoid the draft. They volunteer for overseas training because they want to.

EVELLE J. YOUNGER

Major General, USAF (Ret.)

Los Angeles

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