02.23.16

Remarks of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senate National Guard Caucus Breakfast

Thank you, General Grass, for those words, and thanks for joining us today. Thank you also to Chief Master Sergeant Brush for being here and keeping the men and women of the National Guard at the forefront of our minds. I also am grateful to Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy for being here; he is also the first Iraq veteran to have served in Congress. And thank you to all of you for taking time out of your busy schedules to show your support for the National Guard.

This year, like every recent year it seems, we meet under the intense pressure of tight fiscal resources and expansive national needs. As the force continues to get smaller, the challenges continue to grow—whether anticipated ones like our shortfall in cyber forces and concepts, or bigger surprises, like the destabilizing activities of Russia.

I think what else is constant though is obvious: the determination of our men and women to be the best to protect this nation and to allow it to grow and thrive. And the men and women of the National Guard continue to be incredible examples of that dedication, both overseas and here at home.

Just this last year, the Vermont Air National Guard deployed to the Far East to reassure our partners and treaty allies there that the United States stood with them, while the Vermont Army National Guard spent a year being ready-to-go for what the nation needed. And that is in addition to their work with the State Partnership Program, counterdrug, STARBASE, and countless other services to our nations and our communities. I know that each Senator could tell similar stories about his or her Guard, and how they were there when it counted, whether at home or abroad.

As I point out every year, the Guard being there for our communities is the reason for the other thing unchanged—how we will always be there for the Guard. As co-chairs, Senator Graham and I, as well as the over 70 other members of the Senate National Guard Caucus remain committed to supporting the dedicated men and women of the National Guard, their families, and the employers and communities who support them.

As the results of the Army Commission are analyzed to map a new future, as operational use of the Guard becomes more standardized and planned, as the Air National Guard begins for the first time ever true concurrent fielding with the F-35 and the KC-46, and as the Chief of the National Guard Bureau provides his best military advice to the President as a full member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, please remember that we support you, and that we are [darn] proud of you.

# # # # #

Press Contact

Press Contact
David Carle: 202-224-3693