"Staying on target!"
I have truly enjoyed my first six months serving as your Adjutant General. Our organization is filled with consummate professionals, and I’m impressed a little more every day with your commitment to “Staying on Target.” I urge you to continue raising the bar and focusing on mission success. Rest assured that I will do my part to ensure that the Georgia National Guard continues to be a relevant force in both the military and civilian sectors.
A few weeks ago, I had the honor of attending the Guard Senior Leadership Conference (GSLC) as well as an Adjutants General meeting in Washington, D.C. During our time in D.C., we discussed, at great length, how all 54 National Guard organizations will be impacted by impending Department of Defense budget cuts. While we’ll be working through specifics over the coming days and weeks, I wanted to tell all of you about the effort which was put into getting the Guard story to the decision makers in Washington.
In the weeks leading up to the GSLC in Washington, there were many conversations, in many forms, about how to best approach a seemingly increasing adverse budgetary impact. While there may be further explanation, on the surface it certainly seemed like budgetary cuts and “iron” shifts in the Air Guard specifically were less than “balanced” when compared to the Active Duty and Air Force Reserve components. The Adjutants General from all 54 states and territories decided that a unified effort, and a letter signed by all Adjutants General, would be the best approach to a positive resolution for our organizations.
This “Letter of 54” was delivered across Capitol Hill while we concurrently requested for our Governors and Congressional Delegations to correspond on their own. Our message was very simple: The Guard has delivered over the past two decades. We have lived up to our motto, “Always Ready, Always There.” We have delivered on time, with professionalism and in a cost-effective manner. Going forward, we can and must remain responsive to our Governors, to our states and to our communities. To maintain these roles with some of the proposed cuts would have been difficult at best.
Of utmost importance in delivering this message: we could not have been able to carry this message in Washington without the professionalism of our organizations.
Quite honestly, the plan to tell the Guard story was executed with precision. Our message delivery, as well as our method, resulted in a historic meeting between Secretary of the Air Force (SECAF) Donley, Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz, Chief of the National Guard Bureau General Mckinley, Director of the Air National Guard General Wyatt and all 54 Adjutants General.
In this meeting, we discussed the timeline, access to information, and the perception of a “less than balanced” level of cuts for the National Guard. It was in this meeting that the SECAF and AF Chief of Staff indicated they would be open to listening to alternative plans which could lessen the adverse impact to the Air National Guard. These deliberations are now ongoing and our proposal will be offered over the coming days and weeks.
Throughout this effort, the core message has been to “tell the story” of the National Guard. Our story is solid and our effectiveness speaks for itself. To date, there has been little discussion about the Army side of the budget. Some have speculated that the Army is watching closely to how the Air side is handled. I don’t doubt that at all. In the end, however, I believe our message will be delivered in a positive manner, with a high level of professionalism. That’s what will win and keep us on target.
In closing, thank you for what you do. Remember to stay focused on the task at hand. Always do the right thing, and rest assured that when you do I’ll have your back. That’s a promise.
With the greatest respect and admiration for the job you all do for Georgia and our Country, please know that I continue to be honored to work tirelessly as your Adjutant General.
Best wishes and God Bless.
Column by Maj. Gen. Jim Butterworth
Georgia National Guard
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