The Senate Armed Services Committee today heard testimony from Army Lt. Gen. Frank J. Grass, who's been nominated by the president for promotion to full general and to become the new chief of the National Guard Bureau.
Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, the current chief of the National Guard Bureau, is the first four-star general to lead the National Guard. The change that elevated the National Guard chief position from a three-star to a four-star general billet was generated by the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which also made the position a statutory member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Grass told the committee that he was committed to ensuring that the National Guard remains a vital part of the nation's defense.
"Today our nation faces a challenging threat environment, one that is asymmetric and more dangerous than any other in history," Grass said. "These threats come in many forms. The Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen of the National Guard are skilled combat veterans and they will continue to provide value-added solutions to our national security."
Over the past ten years, the National Guard has demonstrated that it is "an operational force and a critical partner with the Army and Air Force in all missions, all contingencies and on the North American continent," Grass said.
Grass said today's National Guard "is more ready, more capable and rapidly deployable than ever before in our nation's history."
The National Guard Bureau chief's responsibilities as a member of the Joint Chiefs include addressing matters involving non-federalized National Guard forces in support of homeland defense and civil support missions.
If confirmed as the new chief of the National Guard, Grass said he would be able to bring to state National Guard units an understanding of what's happening inside the Department of Defense.
Grass said he'd also be able to ensure that DOD has a better understanding of the needs of the states when responding to "fires, floods [and] tornadoes and to be able to come together with our partners within DOD and find a balance."
Grass is currently serving as the deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command and vice commander of the U.S. Element of North American Aerospace Defense Command, a joint command with Canada. He has held both positions since 2010.
If confirmed, Grass would become the 27th chief of the National Guard Bureau, succeeding Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, who has held the position since 2008.
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