CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In June 1775, George Washington accepted the task of forming the Continental Army. Washington immediately reached out to the colonies to send forward militia companies (the modern day National Guard) to form the heart of the new nation's military force.
This nation's leadership must look at its own history to understand the significance of the "citizen soldier" as a key component of the country's defense at home and abroad and how it is woven into the fabric of our military. This is particularly true at a time when we must do more and address a broader spectrum of threat with fewer resources.
Recent comments by national leaders demonstrate that some don't fully understand the cost effectiveness, capability and constitutional roots of the National Guard. When pressed about putting more structure in a properly resourced operational reserve, these leaders have given some interesting responses, such as:
• It takes two years for a National Guard unit to get ready to deploy.
Guard units are placed in the service deployment model and prepare to deploy based on the available time. Since September 11, 2001, guard units deploy when called based on the available time allotted by the U.S. Army. During this time, no National Guard units have ever required two years to mobilize.
• The guard is a lesser quality force than the active component.
The guard's performance at home and abroad since 9/11 speaks for itself. It is a true multi-mission force that has responded to every overseas mission tasked while still executing the homeland mission.
• We shouldn't put more assets in the National Guard because we don't want the governors telling the services how to do business.
We should all review Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution. History can teach us a great deal. The founding fathers knew the significance of a strong militia. Just as important -- much like today -- the young nation could not afford to fund a large standing army and had to rely on a ready militia.