The purpose of NGAUS’s (National Guard Association of United States) Officer Professional Development (OPD) program is to educate and inspire Company Grade Officers (CGO). I have had the pleasure of attending two NGAUS OPD events this year to include the NGAUS 144th General Conference in Columbus, Ohio, as well as the recent Capitol Summit. Both events were beneficial to my education, experience, and network as a CGO. I am grateful for these opportunities. I formally would like to thank those that provided me the opportunity to attend these events.
The Capitol Summit was held October 2, through October 4, 2022. The event intended to educate CGOs on how NGAUS, National Guard Bureau (NGB), National Guard (NG), and Air National Guard (ANG), coordinate to interact with congress in attempt to accomplish pertinent objectives of the Air and Army National Guard.
On October 2nd we checked into the hotel, met at the NGAUS building in Capitol Hill, then quickly headed to Airbus’s experience center in DC. Airbus leadership welcomed us with food and drinks, then lead us through their experience center to explain their current and future operations and projects.
October 3, 2022, Monday morning, we were welcomed for breakfast by NGAUS leadership (Ret) Brigadier General (BG) Roy Robinson and Priya Ghosh Ahola in the “Hall of States”, a lecture style hall with every state’s flag flying, following breakfast we transitioned to the “Montgomery Room”, a stately conference room.
(Ret) Major General (MG) Don Dunbar spoke about the formation of the National Guard, major historical benchmarks, and changes for the NG through-out American history. He explained items such as: the Dick Act of 1903, 1908 amendment allowing NG to leave the United States territory for duty, 1916 Amendment to the Dick Act, Title 10, Title 32, Section 304 – requiring NG to have a TAG, the resolution process, and much more. Additionally, he read the “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats, and urged the attending CGOs to go back to their units and start CGO committees if they do not already exist, these committees can collaborate on issues we see, later these posed resolutions can ascend to the state and national level.
MG April Vogel from NGB office of Legislative Liaison (LL) explained her organization, how the LL staff communicates and works with Congressional staff and their members to achieve NGB goals. Furthermore, she discussed “Legislative Proposals” and “Congressional Objectives”, the two mechanisms NGB LL uses to persuade congress to implement their objectives into law. Legislative proposals and congressional objectives are issues/resolutions gathered from each state’s resolutions committee. LL compiles and prioritizes resolutions, then once approved by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and ultimately the DoD at large, the legislative proposals are presented to congress members in hopes for congress to pass into law. These laws can be implemented into the annual NDAA or a stand-alone bill, however, standalone bills are uncommon.
Additionally, MG Vogel spoke about the Military Fellowship program. The program allows for roughly 25 military members from each branch to serve as an advisor for congress members and their staff. The MLAs serve as subject matter experts and a point of contact for congress on topics of military matters.
Former representative of Kentucky Geoff Davis spoke about how congress works in DC and the culture. Paraphrasing some of the quotes I wrote down from his discussion were: Todays enemies may need to be tomorrow’s friends, and the world looks very 1937 currently. Geoff spoke about American history and how isolationism has somewhat been engrained into the DNA of the United States.
Lieutenant General (LTG) Michael Loh, Director of the Air National Guard spoke about the major objectives of the ANG. As expected, a major topic was China and Russia. General Loh stated our goal is to be ready to defeat Chinese and Russian aggression; deter strategic attacks against the US, allies, and US Partners; defend the homeland; build a resilient joint force; operationalize the NDS. He expects China to essentially be militarily peers with the US by 2027, which was originally projected to be much later.
On the topic of reinvigorating the Air Force with Agile Combat Employment (ACE), Air Force Generation (AFFORGEN), and other constructs, LTG Loh reiterated some of the comments he and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force (CSAF) made during the 144th NGAUS General Conference. General Loh and the CSAF stated “proceed until apprehended”. LTG Loh stated “throw the training guide in the trash”. I interpreted their points to be that we need to challenge the status quo and the old way we have done things. He also detailed we should focus on what we can do and be ready for in 30 days. General Loh also detailed that we need to tell the American people why China matters as an adversary.
LTG Jon Jensen the Director of the Army National Guard spoke about how he does not believe in the statement “do more with less”, then summarized the origins of the statement. General Jensen discussed future warfare being “tailored mobilizations”, China, and a great deal about what the US is doing to support Ukraine. In discussing the Russian attacks on Ukraine, he restated a comment from one of his recent meetings, “This is a long way from being over, and long way from being less dangerous. Lastly, LTG Jensen deliberated on being a leader, a quote I wrote down was “there are some people who study leadership, and there are some people that practice leadership”.
Later, NGAUS staff provided the CGO members in attendance talking points and tips to speak with congressional staff members. The two main talking points were HR3512 “Zero-Cost Tricare” for Guardsmen, and concurrent and proportional fielding of equipment for ANG/NG. I was asked to lead the discussions with the WV senator’s congressional staff as I was the WV constituent. We went to the senate offices and spoke with Senator Manchin’s staff for roughly 30 minutes on the two talking points and the benefits they would have for West Virginia and other states. Highlighting that the zero-cost Tricare would improve recruiting, retention, and readiness.
NGAUS had a final reception in their internal museum and foyer area, with food and drinks. NGAUS leadership addressed many topics throughout the Capitol Summit. Some of the key topics were the purpose and intent of NGAUS, the value in establishing a CGO committee and being involved, tips on how to engage with congressional staff members during the event and after leaving DC, and more.
Overall, the NGAUS Capitol Summit was an excellent experience. I would highly recommend any CGO to take advantage of attending this event. I learned the many complexities and processes of getting fiscal law enacted to fund our services, as well as networked with many great CGOs, NGAUS members, and congressional staffers.