“Three Things” First Edition July 2020 – VNG Land Component Commander Update
Virginia Army National Guard Team:
I hope this message finds you and your families in places of safety and health. This is the first installment of what I intend to be a quarterly letter to you, the men and women of our Formation. I had hoped this first message would come as our Soldiers were preparing for a grueling summer of training. However, we found ourselves engaged in missions that, at the end of last year, we could not have anticipated.
Some of you likely already know that I choose to speak and write only in threes. Doing this, I ensure I only communicate what is truly essential. To this end, below are the three things I would like you to know:
- The remainder of this training year must be personnel focused. At the organizational level we are wrestling with how best to remain a ready formation while protecting our Soldiers amid this pandemic. We have decided to conduct virtual annual training to largest extent possible and muster no more than 15% of a unit’s authorized strength at Readiness Centers for personnel and equipment readiness tasks so long as mitigations are initiated to protect our Soldiers from COVID19. More specific training guidance will be provide through the unit chain of command. Our hope is to mitigate risk to our Soldiers and their families. While training is a critical aspect of readiness, we must be well in order to respond to the call of our Commonwealth and Nation.
However, there is no perfect solution to this complex problem-set. As we continue to enter into new territory for our historic organization, we must find innovative ways to approach Soldier care and we must do this together. Soldiers, be creative and be heard. Have the courage to approach your leaders with both problems and solutions. Leaders, be open-minded and communicate the message you hear from your Soldiers up the chain of command. This is an open call for ideas on how we, the Virginia Army National Guard team, can take care of our people while staying ready to fight tonight.
- I am incredibly proud of our Formation. Our Soldiers answered the call of our Commonwealth and Nation during recent efforts to protect our community in response to civil unrest and the fight against COVID-19. We stayed true to our oath and most importantly, we were not bystanders. We stood as a safeguard for the welfare of a Commonwealth facing unparalleled suffering and loss. We kept the promise that we as Citizen-Soldiers make to our communities each time we don our uniform. Well done.
3. “Work-Life-National Guard” Balance. Unlike most people in our society, you are not trying to balance the scales between two, often competing priorities. You have three worlds in which you are valued and needed. As a life-long traditional Guardsman, I have experienced this myself. I believe that we, as an organization, owe you predictability.
The change of our readiness model from the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) cycle to the Sustainable Readiness Model (SRM) forced us out of our normal rhythm. We are grappling to get it back and to get you the fidelity you need to project requirements and make critical decisions on how to balance family, civilian employment, and the National Guard. To this end, I recently signed the Training and Leader Development Guide (TLDG) for our upcoming training years, requiring my approval for any IDT period over a MUTA 5. I believe this will be a good start as we work to align our training tempo with SRM.
Communication is essential as we work towards this common goal. Leaders, be educating your Soldiers as you prepare to enter your ready year. Soldiers, communicate your needs to your leaders. Perhaps you are projecting an important work or family obligation that, as a last resort, might require your temporary absence from units of a higher operational tempo. Changes like this cannot happen if you do not bring your Command Teams into the conversation. Take ownership of your career and work with your leaders to find creative ways to continue service, even as life becomes increasingly complex.
Thank you all for the outstanding work you continue to do for our Commonwealth and Nation. I look forward to seeing you all around the Formation.
K. Weedon Gallagher
Brigadier General, Virginia National Guard
Land Component Commander
This quarter I would like to thank the below outstanding organizations that support us as members of the National Guard and protect our history, our benefits, and help improve our Formation. Specifically, the Virginia National Guard Association and the Virginia National Guard Enlisted Association were instrumental in the passage of SB753. This bill, a law as of July 1, 2020, substantially increases state active duty pay. We could not do what we do as Soldiers without the support of these organizations. If you are not already familiar with all of these organizations, I highly encourage you to take a look at each of their missions and consider all they do to support your continued service: