There is no doubt in the mind of Army Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, head of the National Guard Bureau, that capability requirements not money must drive the size of the Air National Guard. “I am not going to get driven by a budget to a number,” asserted Blum on a visit to New Mexico to see Guardsmen engaged in Operation Jump Start. In response to a question from an airman on border duty, Blum went on to say that when Air Force leaders suggested the Air Guard cut 16 percent of its airmen as part of the service’s overall 40,000-personnel cut over the next three years, he simply told them “no.” In fact, he said it’s possible ANG may need to grow, even if only to make room for some of the skilled airmen who must leave active duty. Blum said earlier this year that ANG also needs “better fidelity” on just what new missions USAF expects it to undertake.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.