RICHMOND, Va. –
Chief Master Sgt. Mitchell O. Brush, the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chief of the National Guard, visited Virginia National Guard Airmen and Soldiers March 8-9, 2016, in Sandston, Richmond and Hampton, Virginia.
“We were honored to have Chief Master Sgt. Brush visit with the Virginia National Guard and see firsthand the great service that the our Soldiers and Airmen are providing for the commonwealth and our country,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Alan M. Ferris, Virginia National Guard Senior Enlisted Advisor. “It was a great experience for our Soldiers and Airmen to engage in conversation with the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chief of the National Guard Bureau and discuss the many successes and challenges that we face in our continued efforts to support the Commonwealth, the Army and our nation.”
On March 8, Brush toured the Virginia National Guard headquarters in Sandston, where he met with the senior enlisted leaders of the Virginia Army National Guard, Virginia Air National Guard and Virginia Defense Force. He then traveled to the Army Aviation Facility in Sandston to meet with Soldiers and tour the facilities there.
Later that day he visited with Airmen and Soldiers at Waller Depot in Richmond. They briefed him on the status and capabilities of the Virginia National Guard Counterdrug Program, the Virginia Defense Force and the Virginia Guard’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, High Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package, or CERFP.
On March 9 he met with Airmen and leaders of the 192nd Fighter Wing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.
At every stop he saw the equipment and systems used by the Guard in various operations, from decontamination equipment and ion scanners to F-22 Raptors and UH-60 Black Hawks. But those high-tech systems need someone to operate them and that’s where the Soldiers and Airmen come in.
“While the equipment packages we have are truly amazing, it takes Airmen and Soldiers to run it and we need to stay up with the technology,” Brush said. “I think there are subject matter experts at every level of our military.”
Brush spent many years as a traditional Air Guard Airman while working as a state trooper in Montana, so he understands many of the challenges facing traditional Guard Soldiers and Airmen. Still he also understands and appreciates the role of the National Guard’s fulltime force.
“One of the questions and concerns is that full time support doesn’t contribute to readiness,” he said. “But there is no question in my mind that our full-time force can’t get any smaller than it is or we will start losing readiness.”
That readiness is what enables the Guard to conduct so many different missions on such short notice.
“One of the things we hear time and time again, wherever we go, is that the best kept secret is the National Guard,” Brush said. “My frustration, and one of the things I work on every day, is to educate our communities on the things we do. People have no idea.”
When a catastrophic event happens in the community, people often assume the Soldiers and Airmen running around are active duty personnel, he said.
“Little do they know these are people who live in their communities and they’re people who come back to their communities,” he said.