Hokanson: National Guard ‘Relevant as Ever’

Hokanson: National Guard ‘Relevant as Ever’

National Guard
Photo by: Texas Army National Guard/Staff Sgt. Justin Jimenez

As the nation faces emerging threats from global adversaries, the National Guard “has never been more important,” the component’s top general said.

“With an aggressive China asserting influence in the Indo-Pacific and around the globe, a belligerent Russia invading a peaceful neighbor, North Korea developing long-range offensive weapons and numerous violent non-state actors at work in the Middle East and beyond, the mission of the National Guard and the capabilities we bring to the fight have never been more important,” said Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau.

Speaking Feb. 8 at a briefing with reporters at the Pentagon, Hokanson said that 45,000 National Guard troops are currently mobilized, including more than 27,000 who are overseas.

Despite a tough recruiting environment, the National Guard is “in a pretty good place,” Hokanson said.

“We focus more on our end strength,” he said. “Right now, we’re over 99% in both the Army and the Air National Guard when you combine those. … We’re doing everything we can to make sure that our units are fully manned and they can do exactly what they’re asked to do.”

National Guard members are providing critical assistance to Ukrainian troops, including training over 7,500 Ukrainian soldiers across 19 battalions, Hokanson said. The Guard also will continue to help train Ukrainian F-16 pilots, he said.

“We do have the resources to continue the training that’s already started,” he said. “We've been training over two dozen allies and partners since 1989 … in the F 16. So, we’ll be able to continue the training and hopefully get all those folks completed later on this year.”

Regardless of rising global threats, the National Guard is ready to meet them, Hokanson said.

“We’re as active and relevant as ever, and we will continue to be in the years ahead,” he said. “Our leaders … ensure our more than 430,000 National Guardsmen are the best trained and most ready combat reserve our nation can muster. … We will … continue to keep our promise to America to be always ready, always there.”