OTTAWA, Ill. — With an increasingly complex global security environment, the United States will need to rely more on the National Guard to meet its commitments worldwide, according to Maj. Gen. Donald P. Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general.
The increasing demands on the Reserve component requires the unwavering support of families, communities and employers, the latter of which Dunbar addressed when speaking to dozens of veterans and other members of the United Automobile Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) at the UAW Region 4 annual Fall Conference in Ottawa earlier this month.
Region 4 consists of representatives from nine states — Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. They have approximately 400 members total, and approximately 50 members from Wisconsin.
"I think veterans are very important to our country, more so today than perhaps any other time in history," Dunbar said, calling for veterans in the audience to raise their hands. "It is a privilege to wear the uniform with you and share a heritage with you."
Dunbar said a universal desire to build the best possible version of the United States connected everyone in the room, veterans and civilians alike.
"Our country has been going through some tough times, some extraordinary times,” he said. "And I think we're all responsible to preserve the republic and pass it on to future generations, just like it was passed on to us."
Dunbar pointed to the Wisconsin National Guard fulfilling its role as the first military responder in the homeland during recent responses to historic Wisconsin flooding, Hurricane Florence, and Hurricane Michael, in addition to global deployments in support of the Guard’s federal mission as the primary combat reserve of the U.S. Army and Air Force, as just the beginning of an increased demand on members of the Guard. As the national defense focus shifts from terrorism to peer or near-peer threats like Russia and China, he says the nation will count on the National Guard to shoulder even more of the burden.
"This cannot happen without the support of families and employers," Dunbar said. "The UAW represents some of the largest employers of the members of the National Guard. Your companies and the National Guard share America's most precious resource – the men and women who wear the uniform today.
"We must remain committed to our nation," Dunbar continued. "We need companies like the ones you work for to continue to support the effort by supporting this increased commitment of the National Guard. We also need veterans like you, all of you that raised your hand, to continue to remain committed to our country and to provide what I think is the most outstanding example of citizenship, which also serves as a check against extremes in our country. It's important for the people to see the great veterans we have, the great things you've done."