On Guard

By Dan Dupont / September 21, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was in Baltimore today to talk to, and about, the National Guard.

The occasion was the 130th General Conference of the National Guard Association of the United States. He called for a "new and lasting commitment" to the Guard that he said "must begin with our political leadership recognizing the sheer magnitude of what we ask Guard units to accomplish -- abroad and here at home -- with a force comprised primarily of part-time soldiers and airmen."

This means a national leadership that respects and treats our governors and adjutant generals as partners in national and homeland security policymaking, rather than as impediments and intruders. Part of that essential effort was to grant the Chief of the National Guard Bureau the fourth star that the position merits -- and I'm pleased to congratulate General-Select Craig McKinley on being the first Guardsman to wear that fourth star.

This means getting rid of policies, practices, and customs that fail to promote a seamless Total Force based on cooperation, jointness, and the mutual respect that all components, including the Guard and Reserve, have earned with their blood and bravery. We cannot afford -- and I will not tolerate -- an environment in which parochialism stands in the way of building an integrated Total Force.

This means giving the National Guard all the manpower it needs -- including a sufficient complement of full-time positions -- so that every unit is ready to mobilize for any contingency. This means providing all the training the Guard requires, so that no one is asked to take on a mission unprepared. And it means ensuring that our Guard is well supplied, so that no unit will ever go into harm's way without the best equipment that America can provide.

Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) speaks for the Democratic ticket tomorrow.