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NGB senior leaders, DoD officials witness combat effectiveness of the National Guard

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Darron Salzer
  • National Guard Bureau
Air Force Lt. Gen. Joseph Lengyel, vice chief of the National Guard Bureau, hosted members of the Defense Department's Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation Office during Operation Carolina Thunder, a large-scale training exercise, Nov. 15, at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina.

The purpose of the visit was to illustrate the capability of the National Guard to maintain readiness and combat effectiveness while conducting large-scale training exercises during drill weekend periods.

"The Guard has changed so much over the last 14 years and become such an operational force, we think it's important to show them that we believe that going forward the Guard has the capability to maintain itself - given the proper resources - as an operational force," Lengyel said, adding that Guard units have shorter periods of time to train.

"We train to be a combat reserve of the United States Air Force and our United States Army," he said. "That's what we're good at and we've demonstrated that aptly over the last 14 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and at various locations deployed around the world."

Highlighting the force-on-force and joint capabilities of both the Army and Air National Guard, this was the first large-scale training exercise of its kind.

Army Capt. Matt Summey, assistant operations officer of the South Carolina Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment, said approximately 30 UH-64D Apache helicopters, three CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, and four F-16 Fighting Falcons were launched during the exercise.

"They conducted an interdiction attack on four different objective areas at the Savannah River Site, and this is just part of our normal training program here at the 1-151st," Summey said.

"We're trying to get back into the large scale force on force conflict training instead of the smaller counterinsurgency fighting and training, as well as our over-water operations training," he said.

Lengyel said he was impressed, and hoped his guests were as well, by the ability of the South Carolina National Guard to conduct such a large-scale and multi-faceted combat exercise involving units from several states.

"The training and integration of resources from four or five different states to the training areas here in South Carolina for an exercise to take the training of our Apaches out of the role of counterinsurgency and now into the decisive action and full spectrum training has been a great thing ... and it's a great testament to what the Guard has become," Lengyel said.

Summey agreed, adding that it's important for the Guard to train on such a large scale due to changing situations around the world.

"It's important when you look at the situations going on around the world today, that we're not only capable, but that we're capable and we're ready at a moment's notice to pack up and defend against whatever threat arises against the nation," Summey said.