The head of the National Guard Bureau, Army Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, and leader of the Air National Guard, Lt. Gen. Craig McKinley say the Air Guard’s readiness to conduct its state missions has degraded. Blum told lawmakers at a House Armed Services readiness panel hearing that 40 percent of ANG units are not fully equipped, and the situation is worse for the Army Guard. At the same hearing, McKinley expressed dismay to reveal that readiness indicators “are trending down.” He said, “For me to say that in the Air National Guard, it’s hurtful because for many, many years the Air National Guard has maintained extremely high readiness rates.” Air Force officials already have testified that readiness for the Total Force is down since 2001; a situation they attribute to not being able to recapitalize an elderly fleet of aircraft. For the Air Guard, though, part of the problem is that USAF has left some ANG aircraft in Southwest Asia.
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.