Who We Are and What We Do The association includes nearly 45,000 current or former Guard officers. It was created in 1878 to provide unified National Guard representation in Washington. In their first productive meeting after Reconstruction, militia officers from the North and South formed the association with the goal of obtaining better equipment and training by petitioning Congress for more resources. Today, 132 years later, NGAUS has the same mission.
Senators Honor NGAUS Leaders for Efforts in Historic Legislation
Contact: John Goheen at (202) 408-5882
WASHINGTON (March 20, 2012) ― Two U.S. senators reached across the aisle last week to recognize the leaders of the National Guard Association of the United States for their role in passage of last year’s National Guard Empowerment Act.
Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Del., and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., added statements to the March 15 Congressional Record praising Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, the NGAUS chairman, and retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr., the NGAUS president, as driving forces behind the landmark bill.
Vavala is the Delaware adjutant general; Hargett is the former Tennessee adjutant general.
Added as an amendment to the fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the legislation included language making the Guard’s senior officer, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, a permanent member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The president signed the measure into law Dec. 31, 2011.
Corker said Vavala and Hargett “approached an idea widely regarded as a nice, but unlikely thought and helped transform it into a reality.”
Coons said the historic Guard victory was, in large part, a product of NGAUS determination.
“I think that people who have had just a few minutes to chat with [Vavala] come away understanding that he is a dynamic force,” he said. “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.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced the Guard empowerment legislation in May 2011. It ended up with 71 total Senate sponsors.
“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,” Corker said.
“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,” he said. “They also know Gus as the kind of guy to get things done when they really matter.”
Added Coons, “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.”
Vavala and Hargett both said they were humbled by the recognition.
“Senator Coons hit the nail on the head when he spoke of how important grassroots were to this effort,” Hargett. “And at the top of those grassroots were thousands of Guardsmen across the country who spoke loudly on this issue, not just with their calls and e-mails, but their actions over the last 10 years.
“The nation needs these men and women now more than ever, and Congress and the president agreed.”
Reporters, Editors & Producers: Retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr. is available for interviews or to appear as a subject matter expert on defense issues related to the National Guard. Contact John Goheen at (202) 789-0031 to schedule an interview or appearance.
About NGAUS: The association includes nearly 45,000 current or former Guard officers. It was created in 1878 to provide unified representation in Washington. In their first productive meeting after Reconstruction, militia officers from the North and South formed the association with the goal of obtaining better equipment and training by educating Congress on militia needs. Today, 134 years later, the militia is known as the National Guard, but NGAUS has the same mission.
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