Poppas: Guard Must Prepare for Future Fight

Poppas: Guard Must Prepare for Future Fight

Gen. Andrew Poppas, commanding general of FORSCOM, speaks at the MG Robert G. Morehead National Guard and Reserve Breakfast at the AUSA 2023 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Monday, Oct. 9, 2023. (Carol Guzy for AUSA)
Photo by: Carol Guzy for AUSA

The Army National Guard must prepare to face and define a new reality of war, the commander of Army Forces Command said. 

“We have to win the first fight,” Gen. Andrew Poppas said Oct. 9 during the MG Robert G. Moorhead National Guard and Army Reserve Breakfast at the Association of the U.S. Army’s 2023 Annual Meeting and Exposition. “We have to prepare for the battle today, especially in this uncertain world. … We have to be ready today.” 

The Guard has responded effectively to several natural disasters throughout the year, Poppas said.

“The response that we had to Hurricane Idalia included 6,500 Florida Guardsmen alone,” he said. “We saw the true Total Army with [its] response to the Maui wildfires that took place this past summer. Your teams are always ready … for whatever Mother Nature throws at us.” 

Now, after 20 years of war, the Guard is adjusting to a new era of conflict, Poppas said. “We’re putting even more intellectual rigor toward understanding when and how we’re going to operate when that next fight comes,” he said. “We’ve got to look at the future fight, not what we’ve done in the past. Twenty years of continuous conflict have built a lot of resilience and combat experience, and now we have to adjust as our own doctrine adjusts.”  

The Guard will need to determine its capabilities before future conflicts emerge, Poppas said. “As the Army shifts focus to the division and division-level enablers as a tactical formation, now is the time to ask ourselves: who does what, [and] when do they have to do it?” he said. “We’ve got to find the gaps, the faults and the friction points in warfighting today.” 

When the next crisis comes, the “Army will not have the luxury of time” to build its lethal force and resiliency, he warned. 

“We cannot wait. … We’ve got to be prepared today,” Poppas said. “The undisputed bottom line is that we know that the Guard and the Reserve soldiers are going to be committed, we know that they’re well trained and lethal and that they’re ready when called upon.” 

— Karli Goldenberg