– An envoy of Colorado National Guard leaders trekked to the nation’s capitol last week to meet with top National Guard and legislative leadership, and petition for CONG initiatives and concerns.
The annual, informal “State of the State” forum allows frank discussion about the CONG’s strategic future in terms of funding, process improvements, force shaping, restructuring and recapitalizing.
Funding is perhaps the persistent challenge for the Colorado Air National Guard, as is manning for the Colorado Army National Guard.
Alternately, the CONG’s location and positive relationship to U.S. Northern Command was capitalized in conversations regarding current and future missions.
Other key issues brought to the top:
· Allow recruitment to account for authorized manning and new missions
· Allow ability to retain and manage transition of set number of AGRs to new force structure
· Continuing support to leverage multi-component capabilities, such as gaining active-duty instructors at the High-Altitude Aviation Training Site in Eagle, Colo.
· Continuing support of contractors for duration of HAATS CH-47D Chinook mission
· Support request for Transportation Theater Opening Element
· Support initiative to manage missile defense officers and retain mission capability
· Increasing and continuing budget cuts affecting current and new missions, and readiness
· Continuing discussion about creating active associations due to location and availability of facilities
· Reminder about the uniqueness of the COANGs mission and capabilities as compared to many other fighter or airlift wings: supports four major commands and three operational missions, 2 of which are 24/7; and in addition, runs its own airfield
· Continuing discussions regarding the availability of training for new recruits, ancilliary training relief and control grade reductions
· Importance of joint manning document in order to build structure in joint staff
· Importance of State Partnership Program and preserving the state’s long-term engagement with partner nations
· Ensure the state’s Defense Support to Civil Authorities missions are properly resourced and funded
· Top-down support of a joint peer-to-peer program to help Soldiers and Airmen recognize combat stress and help employers recognize key changes in their employees following a deployment
· Struggle to keep a healthy balance between family, jobs and National Guard; not enough time for senior enlisted force to provide strategic or future vision for force
· Lack of budget and personnel, and prohibitive certification requirements can create negative potential
In addition to these discussions, senior leaders also visited the ambassadors of the CONG’s state partners, Jordan and Slovenia.
Leaders also took time out to pay homage to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon, and visited the graves and memorials at Arlington National Cemetery dedicated to Colorado Guardsmen who were killed in action in Vietnam and Afghanistan.