A Prolonged Presence

The airmen and soldiers of the National Guard will play a significant role in overseas operations for a “very, very long time,” says Gen. Craig McKinley, National Guard Bureau chief. McKinley, who recently returned from a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, said today’s National Guard is arguably the “most battle-tested” in US history due to the experience of its members in operations overseas. Not only is the Guard integral to combat activities, it is also assisting emerging governments build civil capacities, he said. As an example of the Guard’s civilian-to-military contributions, he cited the Guard’s agribusiness development teams operating in Afghanistan. McKinley was speaking to about 1,800 Guard members at an enlisted conference in St. Louis on Aug. 8. (St. Louis report by Army SSgt. Jim Greenhill)