Rebuttal of General Odierno’s National Guard Commentsby Representative Doug Collins
Posted on 2014-01-16
in the house of representatives
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, this past Saturday I had the
pleasure of welcoming home the soldiers of the 1/214th Field Artillery
Division located in Elberton, Georgia. The Georgia National Guard unit
deployed to Afghanistan for a year, fighting for the freedoms we enjoy.
While speaking before the audience of recently returned veterans, I never made a distinction between National Guard and Active Duty. What I lauded these soldiers for was putting their lives on the line in defense of their nation. The flag they wear on their right shoulder, signifies them as a fighting force on behalf of the United States.
That flag doesn't distinguish whether they are National Guard or Active Duty.
So I was very disheartened three days ago when I heard reports that U.S. Army Chief of Staff, General Odierno said, ``the capabilities are not interchangeable,'' referring to the National Guard and Active Duty.
It appears to me the National Guard's capabilities have been interchangeable as they have defended the nation during its 13 year war on terrorism.
The members of the 1/214th Field Artillery capabilities were interchangeable as they served with distinction during their year in Afghanistan. They executed 724 missions, conducted 9,300 vehicle searches, and were awarded numerous Purple Hearts and Bronze Star Medals. The 1/214th was awarded the Army's Meritorious Unit Citation which is given only to units whose performance is considered to be outstanding, heroic and actions valorous in nature.
It is hurtful to me as a Reservist, and the Guard members in my state, to say their skills are not interchangeable even though it is well known the Guard does the same job as Active duty with fewer resources. And yes, the Guard traditionally trains only 39 days a year, but yet, still fights for a year straight when deployed.
In addition to a year deployed, National Guard and Reservist are sent to mobilization stations for three months prior to deployment.
These mobilization stations are the last stop prior to being deployed. So a Guardsman, citizen soldiers as they are often called, is actually away from their families for a total of fifteen months.
For General Odierno to say Active Duty and National Guard are not interchangeable is disingenuous. The National Guard has to train to the same standards and adheres to the same doctrinal fighting form as Active Duty units.
In addition to fighting the foes of our nation, the National Guard is called up at a moment's notice to respond to hurricanes, tornadoes, chemical spills, and all manners of man-made and natural disasters. National Guard only trains for 39 days, when there isn't a state emergency.
As of recent, between Hurricane Sandy to the chemical spill in West Virginia, the Guard has been activated to serve the citizens of their state.
The members of the 1/214th Field Artillery would be disheartened to learn that their chief of staff doesn't think they are as capable as an Active Duty unit. I know, they know, that they can function in every terrain, weather condition, and operational environment as any other combat unit, why doesn't General Odierno? ____________________