By Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 18, 2015
PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore. -- The Director of the National Guard Bureau (NGB) along with his Senior Enlisted Advisor, visited the 142nd Fighter Wing during a town hall event, speaking and interacting directly with Guardsmen here on base, Aug. 15, 2015.
Army Gen. Frank J. Grass, the 27th NBG Chief, and Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Mitchell O. Brush, addressed key issues effecting Airmen, while outlining the three key missions of the National Guard including; providing resources to the governor to protect the homeland, supporting worldwide combat capabilities, and Oregon's continual assistance to Bangladesh and Vietnam under the State Partnership Program.
Brush introduced his boss, saying it was good to be back in Oregon having visited in January of this year, touring several military locations around the state.
"I don't know what it is about Oregon: you guys are really good about building leaders. The Air National Guard Command Chief: an Oregon Guardsman. The Army Command Sergeant Major: an Oregon Guardsman."
Earlier in the day Grass and Brush attended a ceremony at Camp Withycombe, Oregon, to promote Army Maj. Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, Oregon Adjutant General, to the rank of Lt. Gen. prior to assuming his new appointment as Deputy Commander, United States Northern Command, and Vice Commander, U.S. Element, North American Aerospace Defense Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.
Grass said that the demands on the National Guard have never been greater as he highlighted not only existing operations and deployments since 9/11, but evolving global assignments that Soldiers and Airmen are now performing.
"If just you look at our overseas deployments for training, those numbers are running about 2,000 to 3,000 in a given week where [National Guard] members, right now are taking part in missions, primarily in Europe," Grass explained while referring to slides during his briefing.
Specifically, Grass touched on current missions that Oregon Airmen are assigned, from the 24/7 Aerospace Control Alert Mission to Operation Atlantic Resolve and other worldwide taskings.
"Domestically, everyone here is a part of that mission whether it is your Alert mission, counter drug and just in the past few weeks there are crews all over the state [of Oregon] fighting fires both on the ground and in the air."
After the briefing by Grass and Brush, the two leaders answered questions from several Airmen in attendance. Questions ranged from retention, applying for military training schools and the diversity of the force. Within the last year, Grass signed the NGB Diversity Strategic Plan and highlighted the subject while taking questions.
"We need our military and all of the Department of Defense to look like the rest of the county," Grass said. "We do this by growing our leadership and taking the time to mentor, train and find those jobs where everyone can participate."
Another aspect of the town hall allowed Grass and Brush a chance to gain a larger sense on how traditional Guardsmen are being deployed and used domestically.
"When looking at our strategic manpower assessments, we want to be careful not to break the total force," Grass said. "So when we get out to events like this we want to get a sense and see if we are using you too much."
In terms of capacities for growth in the near future, Grass discussed areas where the Guard is hoping to add positions and training opportunities for the next fiscal year.
"Cyber is one area that we anticipate to add close to 600 new positions this next year," he said.
Grass said that in conversations with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, their discussions have focused on how to best utilize the Air Force in terms of the total force of active duty, reserve and guard components.
"We have talked about maybe moving more engineers into Red Horse units because they fit really well with the Guard's mission and other roles that might be applicable with the F-35 [Lighting II] coming on line."
Thought-out the briefing, Grass and Brush emphasized mentorship as a cornerstone for growing the National Guard into the future.
Brush said that developing the force involves all aspects of participation from going to drill, attending schools, getting specialized training, volunteer activities and involving the member's family.
"Ask yourself, what are you doing to grow and are you training your replacement right now? That's how we're going to succeed in the future," he said.
Grass echoed Brush's expression as well, as the town hall concluded.
"If we grow our leaders, then others outside of the military will see the Guard is a great place to be and an excellent opportunity to build a career."