Sgt. 1st class, Millard Kirkland
ALBANY, Ga. — During a presentation to members of the Dougherty County Rotary Club Thursday, Sgt. 1st Class Millard Kirkland outlined the basic history and structure of the Georgia National Guard.
“Most people think of us as the National Guard,” Kirkland said, “but it’s actually more complex than that.”
According to Kirkland, the volunteer organization, the roots of which can be traced to 1636, is one of three operations under supervision of the Georgia Department of Defense. The three are the Georgia Army National Guard, the Georgia Air National Guard and the Georgia Defense Force, which may be called upon to assist the Guard in providing search and rescue, medical support or disaster relief.
Kirkland said that during times of peace the Guard reports to the governor, but at other times may be responsible directly to the U.S. president. Guard members, most of whom are part-time service men or women, may be called on to serve in Georgia or anywhere in the world.
“This is our mission, basically to be prepared to deploy combat-capable units overseas or to support the governor in case of emergency,” Kirkland said. “It could be anything from winter storms to wildfires to terrorist attacks. All the assignments require training, skills and leadership, which can be put to use in almost any situation.”
According to Kirkland, the Georgia Army National Guard consists of more than 11,000 soldiers, training in local armories and facilities around the state. The Air Guard has more than 2,800 airmen in two flying wings and seven geographically separated units.
The combined Army National Guard provides about 32 percent of the U.S. Army’s total personnel, Kirkland said, while the Air National Guard provides up to 19 percent of U.S Air Force personnel with only 6 percent of the budget outlay.
Kirkland said the 116th Air Patrol Wing of the Georgia Air Guard has been continuously deployed since the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the U.S. Pentagon, while the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Unit has served lengthy tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sgt. Kirkland, brigade readiness NCO, entered the military as a combat medic. He serves currently with F Company, 148th brigade support battalion, 48th Brigade. He has served two combat tours, in 2005 and 2006.