[Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 43 (Thursday, March 15, 2012)]
[Page S1731]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. CORKER. Mr. President, in December, with the distinguished 
leadership of the Senators from Vermont and South Carolina, we passed 
the National Guard Empowerment Act as an amendment to the National 
Defense Authorization Act with truly bipartisan support, as evidenced 
by its 71 cosponsors here in the U.S. Senate. At the time, we said that 
the National Guard has performed extraordinary service in the last 10 
years alongside their Reserve and Active Duty counterparts as part of a 
truly integrated total force, but that the changes included by the 
National Guard Empowerment Act were most important not because of the 
great work in the past, but because of the essential need for enhanced 
cooperation in the future.
  The Senate recognized that enhanced capabilities for the National 
Guard, particularly elevating the Chief of the National Guard Bureau as 
a statutory member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, this Nation's highest 
military planning body, were essential to meeting the threats of the 
future. And today I am happy to join my friend from Delaware to 
recognize two men who played a key role in advocating that point of 
view here in the Senate, two men who approached an idea widely regarded 
as a nice, but unlikely thought and helped transform it into a reality. 
They are Chairman of the National Guard Association of the United 
States NGAUS, MG Frank Vavala, and his highly capable ``battle buddy,'' 
the president of the NGAUS, retired MG Gus Hargett.
  People around Tennessee know Gus Hargett as the former Adjutant 
General of our State's National Guard, but also as the person 
responsible for supervising the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency 
and the Tennessee State Guard. They also know Gus as the kind of guy to 
get things done when they really matter. Throughout his career he had a 
healthy mixture of active duty service with the U.S. Army and the 
precise sort of duty with the National Guard at the state level or 
Active Guard Reserve status that we put GEN Craig McKinley on the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff to strategize for.
  With the support of General Vavala and Adjutant Generals around the 
country, General Hargett provided key guidance for this legislation, 
answered countless questions, and provided the needed impetus to take 
it over the top and onto the President's desk. He recognized that this 
transcended simply advocating for the National Guard, it was an 
essential step for preparing our country's homeland defense strategy.
  Mr. COONS. Mr. President, I am pleased to join my friend from 
Tennessee to show appreciation for the efforts of General Hargett and 
General Vavala. As he says, it is about much more than recognizing good 
work done, it is about preparing for the natural and manmade threats to 
Americans, and I would like to associate myself with his remarks.
  My State is particularly blessed to have General Vavala as our world-
class adjutant general, providing invaluable leadership to the Delaware 
National Guard on behalf of our Governor. I think that people who have 
had just a few minutes to chat with him come away understanding that he 
is a dynamic force. They would be able to instantly understand how he 
and General Hargett helped guide a compelling, grassroots campaign of 
hundreds of thousands of National Guard men and women and their State 
leadership to make clear to their representatives that their Guard 
strategy was a national defense concept to be taken seriously. Defense 
of our homes begins at home, something the National Guard has 
specialized in for 375 years. At a time when it seems nothing in 
Washington works right, General Vavala insisted time and again that the 
voice of the people matters and worked tirelessly to prove it. Congress 
recognized the wisdom of investing in the National Guard, and responded 
appropriately, with the most important piece of legislation since the 
modern, dual-mission National Guard was established in 1903.
  Now, the leadership of the National Guard stands ready to support the 
President and Secretary of Defense in the new strategic guidance 
released in January. It is clear that tough decisions have to be made 
in this budget environment and that we will have a military with a 
different look and operational approach in the future. However, we are 
confident that the National Guard will not shrink from its 
responsibility to defend our Nation and its interests around the world 
as well as meeting every home State emergency and challenge it faces.
  We are grateful to GEN Frank Vavala, GEN Gus Hargett, and the members 
of NGAUS, for the important roles they played in this momentous