– An envoy of Colorado National Guard leaders traveled to the nation’s capitol to meet with top National Guard leadership and petition for CONG causes and initiatives.
The annual, informal “State of the State” forum allows frank discussion about the CONG’s strategic future in terms of process improvements, force shaping, restructuring and recapitalizing.
Funding is perhaps the biggest challenge across all spectrums, as are perceptions of active component forces disregarding uniqueness of Guard capabilities and missions prior to making policies that affect the National Guard as a whole.
Joint qualification is another key challenge. The Department of Defense-mandated joint doctrine and operations course isn’t as readily available for Guard personnel as it is for active duty troops, and the existing process makes career outlook difficult to predict.
CONG leaders also met with the ambassadors of Slovenia and Jordan to exchange ideas on current and future state partnership initiatives, possibilities for program expansion including the use of COARNG aviation assets in Jordan, and civil-to-civil partnerships.
Audiences included Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Craig R. McKinley; Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, director of the Air National Guard; Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter, acting director of the Army National Guard; Army Maj. Gen. Michael H. Sumrall, acting director of joint staff at the National Guard Bureau; congressional representatives; and their combined staffs.
Enlisted issues were heard by Command Sgt. Maj. John D. Gipe, senior enlisted advisor assigned to the office of the assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs; Command Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall, Command Chief Master Sergeant and Senior Enlisted Leader for the National Guard; and Air National Guard Command Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Muncy.
Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, the Adjutant General of Colorado; Col. Dana M. Capozzella, commander of the Colorado Army National Guard; Brig. Gen. Scott Schofield, CONG director of joint staff; Brig. Gen. Stuart Pike, assistant adjutant general for space; Brig. Gen. Trulan A. Eyre, 140th Wing commander; Brig. Gen. Robert Balster, COARNG chief of staff; Col. Neil Keohane, CONG commander of joint staff; Col. Any Meverden, CONG state chaplain; Col. Peter Byrne, 140th Wing vice commander; Lt. Col. Conor Cusick, senior army advisor to TAG; Chief Warrant Officer 5 Linda Blincoe, state command chief warrant officer; Command Sgt. Maj. Rob Lawrence, CONG senior enlisted leader; and COARNG State Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Lousberg made up the entourage.
Key issues brought to the top:
· End-strength allowance not equal to force structure allowance: asked ARNG to consider adding additional slots to end strength in order to balance personnel and missions
· Modularity mismatch: Conversion of support battalions to operational units left deployable units without command and control support. Currently, 11 Soldiers supply command and control to 500 deployable Soldiers.
· COARNG has grown by 500 Soldiers since 2004, but Joint Force Headquarters-Colorado operational profile hasn’t changed to support operational mission profile
· Continuing support to leverage multi-component capabilities, such as gaining active-duty instructors at the High-Altitude Aviation Training Site in Eagle, Colo.
· Continuing conversation regarding basing criteria for F-35 mission and bridging the gap between aging F-16s and next generation of fighter jets
· Possibility to create associate wing at Buckley Air Force Base
· Unique missions such as air sovereignty alert should require different funding consideration
Space and Missile Defense:
· Challenges due to limited equipment and ability to maintain skills sets
· Career advancement currently limited by few locations and austere conditions
· Guard involvement in new cyber missions