By Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke
National Guard Bureau
ARLINGTON, Va. (9/17/09) - The Department of Defense has achieved an understanding of the importance that the military can and should play in homeland defense, the Pentagon’s Reserve Affairs chief said Sept. 12.
“It is a complex subject,” Dennis McCarthy, the assistant secretary of defense for Reserve Affairs, told an audience at the 131st National Guard Association of the United States General Conference in Nashville, Tenn.
“I have been involved in these issues for a long time. I understand the importance of the Constitution, and the importance that governors play as the commanders in chief of their state.
“I believe we can find ways to work together to use our forces … to do the nation’s business whether in homeland defense, homeland security or consequence management or any challenges that we might face.”
Family readiness and employer support are two other subjects high on McCarthy’s priority list that are essential to a sustainable force.
“We understand that you cannot sustain the reserve component, you cannot sustain the level of effectiveness if we lose the support of our families,” he said.
McCarthy said the Yellow Ribbon effort is a process – not a program – that is firmly entrenched at the unit level, and “we need to provide augmentation and reinforcement, and we are going to work hard to do that.”
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve is also a major effort in the Reserve Affairs office, McCarthy said.
“[It’s] all directed at supporting ... our nation’s employers,” he said. “The level of employer support … is night and day better than it was in 1990. Employers of our country are to be congratulated and thanked for what they do.
“Part of the success comes from the good work that we have done through ESGR. We need to continue to reinforce that effort,” he said. “We will continue to be good partners with you in that very important program.”