Interviewee: Donald Gunn
Interviewer: General Ronald O. Harrison
Date: July 13, 1999
G: [I am speaking with] General Ronald O. Harrison, the state adjutant general for
the Florida National Guard. [It is] July 13, 1999, [and we are in] St. Augustine,
Florida. General Harrison, tell me a little bit about your background and your life
up until your association with the military.
H: I was born in Bartow, Florida, and lived there only a little while as a very young
child. I started school there, in Bartow, and lived in Tampa and Orlando. I
actually grew up most of my time in Orlando. I went to Boone High School and
decided then to go to Florida Southern College and spend a little time there.
That was my first shot with the military, at Florida Southern in the ROTC. I had
never considered the military as part of a career for me or as even part of my life,
[except that] in those days, in the mid-1950s, most everybody who went to
college, if they had an ROTC program, had to go to it. I guess as I look back on
it and have told people many times, the first experience was a great experience
for me. We were wearing khakis in those days and as I put the khakis on,
[because] they were starched and everything [was] polished and the shoes were
highly polished, I really enjoyed it. That was my first real, I guess, love affair with
the military as a young cadet having to do it. It was not voluntary. You had to do
it. That is where I first got started.
G: ROTC was a requirement? Was it land-grant?
H: I am not sure. Most everybody who went to any college that had ROTC had to
do that. You had to do it the first two years, not the whole four years. The four-
year was on your own, if you wanted to do it.
G: So, up to the point where you had to sign the papers, you had to go?
H: Correct, it was obligated.
G: Now, you did not finish at Florida Southern?
H: No. I started at Florida Southern, went two years there, and decided to change
majors. So, I went to Florida State to major in geology, which I did not end up in,
but that was my motivation to go to Florida State. When I went to Florida State,
of course, I had completed my first two years of obligation. I did not have any
more obligation, but I liked it so much that I decided to get into the senior
program the last two years. I could use the money, for one thing. We got paid a
little bit. It was not an ROTC scholarship in those days but if you were in the
senior course, you got $28.50 a month, which was good money for me in the
late-1950s/early-1960s. So, I went to Florida State and went over immediately to
the PMS, the Professor of Military Science, and inquired about getting into the
G: What kind of training did they do at that time in ROTC?
H: It was very sparse. It was really drills once a week, inspections and that kind of
thing. Of course, as you went up in the cadet rank, you had more responsibility
in some of the staff positions, S-1 and S-4 mainly. Also, you had the leadership
positions that you could go through, but most of that was drill. We did very little
like we do today, where the cadets go to train on weekends and that kind of
thing. All we had was khakis. We had no BDUs. Certainly, there were no BDUs
in those days, but there was no fatigue-uniform at all in ROTC.
G: So, no summer encampments?
H: We did have summer encampments. We went for six or eight weeks for that.
When I went, it was 1959. We went for eight weeks, I believe, to an
encampment at Fort Benning [Georgia]. You had that regionally by, mainly, the
southern states, I guess, the colleges in the southern states that had ROTC.
G: What year were you commissioned, then?
H: I was commissioned in 1960 because I was on an athletic scholarship at Florida
State, so I had another year of eligibility. So I really was not commissioned, of
course, until I graduated, which is very much like it is today. I was supposed to
graduate from college by 1959 but, because I had another year of eligibility and
changed majors a couple of times and changed schools one time, I went the
extra year. So, I was commissioned in 1960.
G: What branch were you commissioned for?
H: Infantry. Yes, I was one of the those who put my first three choices as infantry.
They sent it back and said I had to choose some others, so I went back to
infantry, armory, and artillery. That was the way I had it.
G: And you received a National Guard commission originally?
H: No. I was a distinguished military graduate and went into the [active] army as a
Reservist, the USAR commission. I did not even know about the Guard. I went
to Fort Benning and had been at Benning for about four months, I guess, of a
two-year tour that I thought I was going to spend at Benning. The Berlin Wall
came along, so they pulled a handful of Reservists who were on active-duty to
Europe, so I got to go over to Europe. I guess I did about nineteen months in
Europe as a Reserve officer, which was very unusual because they only took
Regular Army officers over there. I turned down a Regular Army commission
because we had a family business that has not ended up working out for us. But
anyway, my plan was to get out after two years.
G: So, if you did not accept the Regular Army commission, you only had a two-year
H: You had a two-year active obligation and four years, then, of Reserve duty of
some kind. That is really where I got to the Guard. I came back off of active
duty, spending nineteen months in Germany, and ended up in a situation where I
probably had to change branches. In Orlando, which was my home where I was
going to make a civilian living, they did not have any infantry units.
Quartermaster, transportation, some of the CSS stuff, and I just was not
interested in that, although I would have had to do it for my other four years. So,
I ran into a friend one day who had graduated from Florida Southern the same
time I had graduated from Florida State, and I asked him, how did you finish your
obligation, your four years on Reserve duty? He told me that he had gotten in
the Guard. I said, that sounds okay, but what is that? He told me they had an
infantry battalion headquarters in Orlando, which is where I was living. I asked
him to explain what the Guard was, because I knew what the Reserve was, so he
explained somewhat the difference. So, I went to the Guard headquarters in
Orlando, the infantry headquarters, and talked to them.
G: So, what year was that when you started the program?
H: That would have been 1963, when I got out of the Army.
G: What were your positions from 1963 on? You obviously started to stay in the
Guard past your obligation, correct?
H: Oh yes. Well, I had been a platoon leader and an XO [executive officer] for the
active Army in Germany for the two years I was there. Then, I came in and was
a reconnaissance-platoon leader, initially, in the Guard. In those days, the Guard
was not taking many active Army officers in the Guard. Mostly, they were going
through OCS [Officer Candidate School]; kind of growing-their-own was the way
they described it in those days. So, they would take somebody out of one of their
units and send them to OCS, much like we do today, but that is the only way they
got them. It was very hard for an active guy to come off active duty and get in
the Guard. Most of them were going into the Reserves. But they opened the
window there for me, and I was able to get in and became a recon[naissance]-
platoon leader. I was an XO for headquarters company and an XO in a rifle
company, and then ended up commanding the rifle company in Deland, Florida,
which was about forty miles away, which was unusual in those days because,
normally, they just did not let you travel very far. That was from Orlando to
Deland. Of course today, it is nothing, but in those days, it was unusual to
command a unit unless you lived in that hometown, because it was a hometown
G: How did you feel the Vietnam War affected the National Guard?
H: I thought it was devastating, frankly. There were many of us. I got out of the
active Army about the time they started sending advisors to Vietnam. So,
Vietnam had not heated up; it was just in the early stages by the time I got into
the Guard. Of course, Vietnam started getting more and more heated, and it
gave us a real sense of urgency in the Guard because we felt like surely, we
were going to get called. So it increased our sense of urgency, but we never saw
any increase in the Army's sense of urgency. We should have known. Of
course, I was a young officer, and I had no idea that there was a message in
there that they were not going to send us. I did not know that for sure, and I did
not know why. Certainly, we look back now and know that President [Lyndon B.]
Johnson made a political decision not to call the Guard and the Reserve. Now,
we know that there were a handful of Guard units. Indiana sent up a long- range
reconnaissance unit of some kind, and there were some others in the Air Guard
who did some things. But the President, as I read history now, made a certain
effort not to call the Guard. So, there was no equipment. Training was on
Monday nights, in our case. It was usually one night a week. That is what the
Guard units did. It was a pretty dismal arrangement because going to an armory
for three or four hours a night, one night a week, you got nothing done. You
would go to annual-training, or summer camp as we called it, and that was about
what it ended up being. I guess there were a lot of us who stayed in the Guard
because we knew that we could probably make a difference if the Army or
whoever the powers to be were at the time-we did not understand it thoroughly-
if they would give us the equipment and train us and allow us to do some things
that we knew we were capable of doing. We said, even in those days, that the
gene-pool was the same. There was no difference between Guardsmen and
active people. "Regulars" was what we called them then. The gene-pool was
the same; it was just a matter of how many resources you put to it. That is not a
lot different than it is today.
G: Did you see an increase in personnel, people joining the Guard to avoid the
draft? Was that a problem?
H: I have heard a lot of that, and I suppose that it is true. Of course, nobody knew
at the time whether you were going to avoid the draft or not, because you can go
in the Guard and, of course, you avoid the draft, but you may or may not get
called. I mean, nobody knew for sure that we were not going to get called
because they never announced that. Many of us always suspected that we were
going to get called at one point, but we never did. So, I think we saw, probably, a
pretty good influx of people who came in hoping that because they were in the
Guard...certainly, as time went on, they figured out that the Guard was not
sending any units early on and, maybe, even in the middle of the conflict, there
were some people who figured out we were not going to get called at all. Of
course, there were those of us who, I guess, had the warrior-spirit and hoped we
would get called to do what we had been trained to do. As a country, we thought
that it was the best thing to do, that we go and citizens of our communities knew
that we were engaged in that.
G: Do you think if the Guard and Reserves had been called up, it would have made
H: I think it would have made a difference in a lot of ways. Number one, I have to
believe that bringing people freshly into the military and putting them in Vietnam,
after just a little bit of training, where you still had a lot of people in the Guard and
the Reserve who had some experience in both the active...bringing that
institutional knowledge with them, as well as, probably, some who still had some
Korean [War] experience-not too many would have had Korean experience, but
some of them of still did-I think it would have made a lot of difference, rather than
bringing in totally fresh people. On the officer side of it too, I think, even though
our officers, generally, were a little bit older. I was probably not, because I had
just come out of the active Army, but our officers were a little bit older than if they
had gone through OCS. But you would have had a lot more experience than
officers going into that. I think we proved that in [Operation] Desert Storm [official
term for the United Nations' military contingent in the 1991 Gulf War]. I would
use that as a bellwether, saying now, today, in Desert Storm, we brought the
Guard and the Reserve. So, that probably would have been the right way to
have done it in Vietnam.
G: What was the political reasoning, do you think, behind not calling the Guard and
H: I have read a lot of accounts about it, and I believe that the president and,
maybe, the secretary of defense but certainly the people who advised him in the
national command authority, in the National Security Council and that kind of
thing. Probably, he just did not want to open us up to criticism. I am not sure
that the political policy would have stood the light of day if you had all these
people going. Maybe that is what they tried to avoid. I really do not know, but it
was definitely a political decision not to call the Guard and Reserve, which is
why, of course, General [Creighton] Abrams, when he became the Chief of Staff
of the Army, came up with this total-force policy. Of course, the secretary of
defense at the time and all of the people did [support the Total-Army concept].
Again, I was a young officer in there just trying to keep my job. I was not
politically involved at all, but as I look back on it, General Abrams, after that,
came to the point and said many times in his speeches, we have to be a total-
force; the Guard and Reserve have to be integral to what the Army does; and, we
should never go to war again unless the communities, the grassroots, go with us.
That is the whole premise of the total army, now called the Army. That is by the
new chief of staff.
G: During the 1960s, did your unit have any calls to state-service?
H: In the 1960s? I am trying to think of the times that we did, but it would have been
very few. We might have had a hurricane or so in the early 1960s. I think where
we really started getting called was in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the
riots and that kind of thing. We did have a good number of those, though.
[There was] just a whole lot of unrest in the country. The Guard had a lot
problems ourselves because we did not have equipment to train and we did not
have resources to train. We were in the mode then of the young men having
long hair, so they were authorized by the Department of Defense to wear wigs
when they came through. It is hard to imagine sitting here now, and it was hard
for us to even tolerate then. But the styles were such, and you have seen
pictures, that people had long hair. So when they came to the military, they had
to put on short-hair wigs to look military. It is a total reversal. I sit here today and
think about, how could that have happened? Well, if that happened, then you
can imagine what the discipline problems must have been, AWOLs [absent
without leave; deserters] and people who just did not want to come and all that.
[They] would sign up and disappear. It was not a pretty sight. Again, many of
us, and I certainly do not single myself out, stayed in the National Guard to make
it better, just like many of your active Army folks did to make the Army better, and
they did. I mean, we straightened it out after Vietnam, but it has not been without
a lot of gnashing of teeth.
G: Was the National Guard well integrated by the late 1960s?
H: Integrated in terms of race?
G: Racially integrated.
H: No. Very, very little integration. I am not sure of the timing on this, but we
probably did not have many African American enlisted [men] and officers until,
maybe, the very late-1960s, and then we started getting more and more of them
in. But, they were not in leadership-positions because they had not come
through the system. Florida was one of the later states, I think, willing to
G: Did that have any affect on the unit stability in the civil disturbances, racially-
H: No. I would maybe have thought so, but at the Liberty City riots and all, I
remember very distinctly that many of our soldiers were from Miami and lived in
the Liberty City area. There was even a thought-I do not think it was ever said-
that if you were issuing ammunition and these were soldiers who live in this
Liberty City, how were they going to react when they get out on the street?
Actually, it was marvelous. I think they did a marvelous job. There was never a
discipline problem that I know of. There certainly may have been in individual
cases, but it never came to the surface, even in Liberty City and some of the very
difficult times that we had where we were afraid or were restricted or felt
constrained to give any of our soldiers ammunition in those situations. But the
state was fairly slow to integrate, certainly at the leadership level. I think that was
just a matter of the state. Maybe even the state legislature had been slow to put
some legislation in that would enable that.
G: Describe your duty positions during the 1970s. You said you were company
commander there, at...
H: Yes, I was a company commander. I commanded a rifle company in Deland,
Florida. Then, I went back to a typical career. I went back to a battalion and was
a battalion staff officer, probably assistant S-3 [operations] and an S-2
[intelligence] and an S-1 [administration]. I do not believe I ever was an S-4
[logistics]. I did those kind of typical jobs in the late-1960s and early-1970s. In
1974, the Army, by then, had started to catch on to training the Guard better and
putting more resources in. So in 1974, I suppose, or maybe 1973, we started
going to do some training, some realistic training outside of the state, outside of
the country. We went to Panama for the first time, and I remember jungle-
warfare training, a real morale-booster for all of us who felt like this was what we
should have been doing for a long time. I remember this distinctly because in
1974, I was promoted to major. I was probably the assistant S-3 in a battalion. I
was promoted to major and sent to the infantry brigade as an assistant S-3.
Then, I became the S-2, even though I was not a military intelligence officer. I
was an infantry officer. I was able to, I think, translate some of the military
intelligence, the combat intelligence or part of it, because I understood the
tactical part of what the brigade did. From that, I think I was a major for...it felt
like 100 years, because that is very long time that they keep you there. I was a
major through most of the 1970s, from 1974, certainly, until the early 1980s and
worked in several of the staff jobs. I never was the S-3 at that time for the
brigade, but I was the S-2 and an assistant S-3 for the majority of that [time]. I
got promoted in 1980 or 1981 to lieutenant colonel.
G: How did the move to an all-volunteer army affect the Guard during the 1970s
H: I think if any of us were asked at the time, what do you think? Or, how is it going
to work? There were two major things that I remember as I look back. One was,
as we made the transition from Monday-night or one-night-a-week training to
weekend-training, we thought we were going to lose a lot of people, because of
weekends away from home and that kind of thing. We did not. We probably lost
some, but everybody really realized that if they want to be soldiers, they want to
go to the field and do things you can do on a weekend that you could not do on a
week-night. The second part of that was of the volunteer army. Probably, a lot
of us thought that it may not work because people are not going to join. Yet, it
did work, and I think I was fooled myself that it was going to work so well. We hit
it up with a lot of volunteers who went in the Army and then got out and came
over into the Guard. So we were able to keep them after their service in the
Army and they came with the skills and some institutional knowledge and some
education and all-out of the military side that we could use. Really, I cannot ever
remember seeing a blip in the volunteer Army. I think over a year or two, we
started to see the quality come up. Many of us probably, and there were a lot of
people in the country who said this will not work, were surprised that it did work.
Of course, we knew the Marines did that. Generally, the Air Force was doing that
rather than draft. So we knew that some other services had proved it. We
thought, maybe the Army will not work, but it did. It surprised us.
G: So, overall morale during the 1970s you thought was pretty good?
H: Overall, the morale came up during the 1970s, but it did not really peak until we
got into the early 1980s and the Reagan years, when they put more money back
into the Guard. We still were starving. We just did not have the resources to
train. We did not have the schools. It was not a total Army school system at the
time that included the Guard and Reserve. We were fighting to go to school and
fighting for the money to go to school, even if you had the seats and slots to go.
G: Did you have any state service during the 1970s?
H: I am trying to remember exactly when we had the two conventions. Of course, in
Florida, we had some unusual opportunities besides hurricanes that we had
periodically, although we did not have anything very large in those days, that we
were called out for.
G: The opening of Disney?
H: Yes. The big ones were the conventions that the Republicans and the
Democrats had. Of all places, they selected Miami. Those conventions were in
1972. So in the early 1970s, the 1972 conventions, those were pretty brutal,
particularly when you had a pretty rough group, called the Vietnam Veterans
Against the War, WAW. They were really, really animated and did not like
anything with the military because they were veterans, and they had come back
pretty disgruntled. So they were raising a lot of cain. The Guard was probably in
fairly good shape to handle that, but we had not worked with the police forces like
we do now. The Emergency Management System was not in place. The police
organizations themselves were not really organized to handle huge riots and
huge numbers of people. Trying to move people off the streets is one thing if it is
a small crowd, but when you get thousands and thousands, it is a whole other
tactic. Those two conventions were held in Miami, so we went down to both of
those and were housed in a school down there, Miami Beach High School.
Those were pretty tough times for us with those kinds of situations, but those are
the ones that stand out in my mind. Plus, Liberty City. Again, I do not remember
exactly the date of Liberty City. Maybe, that was in the late 1960s. But, Liberty
City and Oakton riots...it seemed like every time we got on the street, we were on
the street in Miami somewhere. [There was] a pretty rough reputation for that city
at the time.
G: Did you see the role of women change from the 1970s, and forward...?
H: Sure. The role of women changed, and I remember this distinctly, as we opened
up some of the units to have women in the different slots. Florida did not have
an awful lot of combat service support units at the time, and that is where most of
them went. I was in the infantry brigade, and the infantry brigade at the time did
not have them anywhere in the infantry brigade. That was probably a mistake.
Of course, it got corrected later because, obviously, there are units within the
brigade where women do an outstanding job. So, we saw that come around
slowly. We probably saw a more rapid change in the African American and
Hispanic [populations] as we started really reaching out to those groups to try to
get people in.
G: Going into the 1980s, you were a major about to make lieutenant colonel?
H: In the 1980s, I was a senior major. I think I made lieutenant colonel about 1980
or 1981, something like that.
G: What were your duty positions throughout the 1980s?
H: My first assignment as a lieutenant colonel was the S-5 of the infantry brigade,
which was a lieutenant colonel position in civil affairs. Because we did a lot of
work in Panama with the villages and the natives and that kind of thing, it was a
pretty viable position. I was not in that long. I was probably there for a few
months, and then I got transferred to the S-3 of the infantry brigade. That was a
good experience for me, but I was not able to stay in that long because I was
picked up to go back to command an infantry battalion. So I went back in 1982
to command the infantry battalion. So, somewhere in that couple-year period, or
less than a couple of years, I was an S-5 and an S-3 at the battalion level.
G: Where was your battalion command?
H: It was in Orlando. An infantry battalion that was kind of my home battalion, the
one I had come up in once I got into the Guard. So, I went back to command
that and did that for four years.
G: How did you see the Reagan era affecting the National Guard?
H: We could feel it immediately. In 1982, as I remember, money started coming in,
and equipment started being increased. We could then go do the training that
we had needed to do and that kind of thing. So, over a two- or three-year period.
It almost coincided with my battalion command. In fact, out of four years I
commanded it and through four annual-training periods, I took the battalion to
Panama twice for training, two different kinds of training in that period of time.
For a Guard unit to deploy overseas twice in four years is a real challenge, but
the money was there and the emphasis was there. There were some other
changes that made it really good for us. One of those was that the Army, as they
had developed this total army concept, came along with this idea of CAPSTONE
relationship with the Army units. What that meant was that a Guard unit, like the
infantry brigade in Florida, was aligned with an Army unit somewhere in the world
that needed their assistance on mobilization or if they had a problem. So, the
infantry brigade in Florida became aligned in a CAPSTONE relationship with
USARSO and Southern Command in Panama, so that part of the defense of the
[Panama] Canal was part of our responsibility. It really gave us something to
focus on, and when we in the military have something to focus on, we do much
better. We were able to take our leaders and say, if this happens and if that
happens, here are the things you will do and here is where you will be. Then,
you take your soldiers down and train on that ground. Everybody's confidence
level really builds because of that kind of a relationship. We can start to see the
total army really making sense to us, because they were depending on us for
backup for, maybe, strategic reserve. I do not know. There are a lot of names
for it. But it was all based on a CAPSTONE relationship, and it went further than
us saying that we are going to go and defend part of the Canal; if this scenario
happens, we will do this; if that scenario happens, we will do the other. It went
well beyond that. It went to a relationship that was so different than what we had
with the Army before. For instance, if you went to annual-training prior to the
early-1980s, maybe prior to the mid- or late-1970s, the evaluators who came
from the active Army would have been picked by someone to come down and
work with you. But an evaluator team may not know each other before they got
there, and there was no cohesion. You may have an infantry officer, lieutenant
colonel/infantry, coming to evaluate the infantry battalion commander in the
Guard. But maybe the infantry officer from the active Army had not served in the
infantry for years, maybe had never commanded an infantry battalion, but he was
just levied from somewhere in the Army. As we got into the CAPSTONE
relationships, we worked together habitually with the other units. So I knew then
that the battalion commander who was going to work with me in 1982 and 1983
and 1984 and beyond was commanding an infantry battalion in Panama. I would
be able to take my troops down and my leaders down, and we would work with
them. He would come and evaluate us, and we started building relationships,
one-on-one relationships. Our NCOs [non-commissioned officers] knew their
counterparts on the active Army. All of a sudden, people realized that we were
all trying to do this thing the same way. We just do not, in the Guard, have as
many days to do it as they do in the active [army] but all of a sudden, personal
relationships started to pay off. That is what we still today call the goodness of
CAPSTONE. With people of my age, if you talk about the goodness of
CAPSTONE, one of the things they would say is, those relationships you built,
one-on-one, and you built some confidence between the two of you, to know that
we put our pants on the same way they do and that we are capable, but we just
do not have the training time and resources. So, it was much more than unit
training. It was the individual things. I even serve with major generals today and
a couple of lieutenant generals who I served with when I was going to Panama.
They were commanding units just like I did, and we served ourselves from
lieutenant colonel on. Many of my officers today that they have built in the Army
with these guys, that both of them have gone up in their own service. It has
made a lot of difference that we tried to make this thing
G: I believe you said the Liberty City riots were during the spring of 1980s. Does
that sound [right]?
H: Yes, they could have been. I am not sure, though.
G: And you sent some units down there? How many?
H: Yes. I was in the infantry brigade during the Liberty City riots. I was a staff
officer, and I remember distinctly that I was the S-2 at the time. Florida had a
good number of units down there. I do not know how many because I was in the
infantry brigade and was not paying a whole lot of attention. I do know of the
special forces at the time, all of the ADA units, the Hawk and Chapparal. There
were a lot coming down there.
G: Also during that time period was the Mariel boat-lift [influx of Cuban refugees to
H: The Mariel boat-lift. I was not personally involved in that. That was handled by
some other groups, but Mariel was just prior to that, if I remember the time right.
The Florida Guard was involved pretty heavily in the Mariel boat-lift, as well as
some others about that time. We had the petroleum strikes, I guess it was, or
truck-driver strikes. So, we had people riding shotgun with truck drivers that
would break through the lines and that kind of thing. So, we had some
interesting times through that.
G: After your battalion command, what position did you move into?
H: After battalion command, I went to troop command. I went to brigade first for a
little while and was the brigade S-3 for a very short time and then went on and
was promoted, because I had been a lieutenant colonel since about 1981. So,
this would have been in 1986 when I left the battalion command, and I went over
and was the S-3.
G: Which is operations officer?
H: Yes, operations officer, for a few months at the infantry brigade and then was
picked up for colonel and went to troop command up in Jacksonville, which is a
command which has a variety of units under it. Its troop command commander,
actually, is the deputy state area command commander. So, it is a headquarters
where you can put a lot of battalions and separate companies under it. So, I
went up there for about six months and then went back to the infantry brigade as
the deputy, as an 0-6. Subsequent to that, I became the brigade commander.
G: You said that the 53rd brigade had a lot of affiliation with Panama. Did
[Operation] Just Cause [U.S. operation under President George Bush to imprison
Panamanian leader Manuel Antonia Noriega, military leader of Panama, 1985-
1989] have any effect on...?
H: No. I had just become the brigade commander. I was not an 0-7 at the time, not
a brigadier general at the time, but I was awaiting that. My paperwork was up in
Washington. I was a brigade commander, and Just Cause had such a high
operational security to it and happened so quickly. Of course, the 18th Airborne
Corps took that command away from Panama, actually, and ran that. They
never called us to do that. It really was not part of our contingency to go against
the Panamanians anyway. We were never in that loop. I think, politically, that all
just happened with some turmoil they had with Noriega. Of course, I wanted to,
and I made a call right after it happened and said that we were available. That
was about all I could do as a brigade commander. But that happened so quickly,
and I do not think they used any of the Guard or Reserves. If they did, maybe a
handful who happened to be on the ground down there at the time. But it
happened so quickly, and there was so much secrecy and security to it, because
they were going against the internal workings of the Panamanian government.
We had only programmed and planned for working against outside aggression to
G: Overall, then, in the 1980s, do you feel like the Guard was improved?
H: No doubt about it and mainly, I would have to say, because of the resources that
came in. With those resources, the training went up which, of course, makes
people want to stay in the Guard or not stay in, depending on the quality of the
training. We were able to train so much and to send people to foreign countries
to do their training, to do some real war training. Our equipment became better.
So, when that happens, soldiers stay longer, and they are much more
enthusiastic. The ones who want to train stay. The ones who do not, who enter
in it just for any kind of social thing, they leave. So, that washed out a lot of
people and kept a lot of people who we needed to keep. The morale, without a
question, and certainly the leadership ranks went up, because we had more
resources to train them.
G: Going into the early 1990s, you were the brigade commander. How did Desert
H: Well, I was very disappointed in that, again, because there was a political
decision made, probably in the Army, but it could have been at DOD [Department
of Defense]. I do not know. I have read all kinds of stories. But there was an
absolutely critical decision to take the Guard and Reserve but not the Guard's
combat units. I was commanding an infantry brigade at that time. It was not
called an enhanced brigade like it is today. But it was a brigade which had been
training in Panama a lot. We trained for all kinds of contingencies, and we could
have done some of the things that they needed done. One of our missions in
Panama was security at Howard Air Force base. Well, there was no difference in
that and security at Dharan Airport. We could see freeing up some of the active
Army units to do whatever they wanted to do. I made several calls to this
headquarters, because I was not here at the time, to the Adjutant General
saying, can't you get us in the hunt? We can go do that and relieve some of the
Army units to do other things. Little did I know that they had politically made a
decision not to call the Army Guard's combat units up. Everybody else went, and
we were pretty sick about it. We are still fighting that decision.
G: What happened with the Georgia National Guard brigade?
H: The Georgia Guard brigade, the 48th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, was one that
was called up and, I think, maligned. I do not know whether they were good
enough to go or not, but with post-mobilization training, they could have been. I
think what got most of us in the Guard is that we saw that the mobilization plans
that were already in place were not utilized. The 48th Brigade was used as an
example of what not to do; yet, the Army went out and picked up units out of Fort
Benning that was a school brigade, and they were usually used to train officers
out there. So, they were not ready either, but they went and joined the 3rd
Infantry-well, it was not at the time; it was the 24th Infantry Division. All of the
readiness reports from the division had said that the 48th was ready to go. Of
course, when it came to crunch-time, they did not call them. They sent them out
to the National Training Center and had them do some things, that even the
active units did not have to do, to get certified. So, the whole certification
process and all was flawed. We thought, and I still personally think, that there
was concerted effort on the Army's part not to let the combat brigades or combat
divisions of the National Guard go to war.
G: Were there any periods in the early 1990s, while you were brigade commander,
of state service that you recall, or have any anecdotes?
H: No. I am trying to think of the times when I commanded the brigade that we
would have been called. We probably had a couple of storms and hurricanes like
that. Of course, that is on the disaster side. On the disturbance side, I do not
remember that we had anything, particularly where there was a problem. People
had calmed down. There was not as much unrest during those times when I
commanded the brigade. So things, by the early-1990s, were pretty stable.
G: How did you become the adjutant general?
H: Actually, it was not a plan that I had for a very long time. I was hoping at some
time to command the infantry brigade, which I ended up doing. There was a time
where I had not even planned to do that. What I was really hoping was just to
keep my job, with every job [I had]. That was the way I did my work, and I never
had any great hopes to do that. When I realized that General Ensslin, the former
adjutant general, was going to retire and it was pretty open...it is just like mine is
now [where] two years from now, I will retire because I will be sixty-four, and it is
required by U.S. Code that I do that. General Ensslin was in the same boat. So
as he got closer to retiring and everybody knew that he was retiring, I considered
it. I was a real-estate developer in Orlando. That was my civilian job. It is
important that in all those years, I was doing two jobs like everybody else does in
the Guard. When General Ensslin was going to retire, it kind of hit me one day
that it might be something I would be interested in. I was already a brigade
commander. I was already a brigadier general of the line. I had gone through all
the Army schools and had completed all of the education, so my rank was fully
federally-recognized. I thought that this may be something I could do and would
like to do, so I looked into it and found out a little bit more about what the job was
and tried to find out how we do that. The way in Florida-and it is a real credit to
some years and years of proper work, I think, in Florida-is not a very political
thing, even though the governor appoints the adjutant general. That is the
governor's responsibility. So I tried to find out how to do this and literally sent a
letter to the governor and told him that I respectfully requested an opportunity to
be interviewed for the job of adjutant general. There were four others besides
me, one who had been in the Reserves for several years, because he had been
non-retained in the National Guard. I do not think he was really eligible but,
anyway, he had his rights to put his name in the hat. There were three others,
two of which were the assistant adjutants general of the state of Florida, one for
the Army and one for Air. They were sitting assistant adjutants general. Then,
the last was another...
[End of side Al]
H: ...at least, that is what mine did, and we kind of compared notes, because we
were all friends. This was in October of 1991. In November of 1991, his staff
called and told me that I had been selected and that I was going to be appointed
to the adjutant general's position. Frankly, any of the four of us could have
handled the job, any of the four general officers who were in the Guard at the
time. He selected me for whatever reason. It was just one of those things.
Maybe we clicked in an interview. I do not know. So, I was appointed. In
Florida, the statute read at the time that you would be a field-grade officer, having
served in the Florida National Guard for five years. It does not say when, but for
five years. So, there were several people, I guess, who could have put their
name in the hat but, anyway, this was the group. Then, in March of 1992 when
General Ensslin retired, I became the adjutant general.
G: Describe the role of the adjutant general, your mission.
H: I think the easiest way to describe that...well, it is really not an easy way. It is a
very complicated set-up. But I tell my friends that I am back on active duty. I am
really not back on active duty, essentially, because I do work Monday through
Friday. I am a state-employee. My position is called the Adjutant General of
Florida. Many people mix it up and call it the Adjutant General of the Florida
National Guard, which is incorrect. It is the Adjutant General of Florida. It is just
like the Attorney General of Florida or the Secretary of Community Affairs or
whatever. I am the chief of the Department of Military Affairs, which is one of the
state agencies that reports directly to the governor. There are several and if you
looked at a wiring-diagram or an organizational-chart, you would see that. Some
of these agencies work for the governor and the cabinet in Florida, but the
Department of Military Affairs happens to work, and I happen to work, for the
governor directly. So I am the chief of the Department of Military Affairs. That is
the state hat, commonly called and rightly called the Adjutant General of Florida.
That is the title of the job. My responsibilities, though, are to take the federal
resources that come to the state which, by the way, at this point in time is about
$210,000,000 a year, that comes from the federal resources to the state, take
them through the Department of Military Affairs, which gives us from the state
side about $10,000,000 to have this little small agency called the Department of
Military Affairs, and use that money to train the Florida Army and Air National
Guard to do whatever they need to do. It is probably a common-misperception
that the adjutant general somehow leads the Florida troops off to war. Of course,
that is not the way it works. My job, and my staff's job, is to take federal
resources and to put those into the units, both Army and Air, that the federal
government needs in the Armed Forces system, to administer those funds and
resources and train those units to be able to report to a theater commander in
chief anywhere in the world. My job is to take resources, train the infantry
brigade if we have one (and we do now) to report to any theater commander in
chief in the world. It could be CENTCOM. It could be to Europe. It could be to
the Pacific, or wherever. When any of these commanders-in-chief decide that
this brigade is needed, then they need to be ready to go to war. That is my job
and responsibility: to administer, to train, to discipline, whatever.
G: What is the current personnel strength in the Army and the Air Guard?
H: In the Army Guard, it is currently about 10,600. In the Air Guard, it is just short of
2,000, about 1,890-and-some people.
G: What are your major units in the Army Guard?
H: The major units? We call them MACOMs, or major commands. The largest one
is the infantry brigade, which is 4,200 people, headquartered in Tampa but
scattered all over Florida with five battalions and three separate companies or
three separate units. Years ago, I guess when we had natural disasters and the
civil disturbances, they scattered our infantry units across the state, one in Miami,
one in central Florida in Orlando, and one up in the panhandle in Panama City,
with their companies scattered out around them in a forty- or fifty-mile radius so
that we had infantry units across the state. So, that is our largest units now,
commanded by a brigadier general. The second largest unit is, what was
commonly called, our 164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. Now, that is part of a
new multi-component unit, called the 32nd Army Air Missile Defense Command,
and it is a joint unit between the Army and the Army Guard. The biggest part of
that headquarters and unit is an Air Defense higher theater level headquarters.
The biggest part of that is in the Guard. That is our next biggest command. It is
called the 32nd AANDC. They have under them, under peace-time control for
training, not when they go to war but when they are training, three Avenger
surface-to-air missile-units, battalions, and one MLRS, a multiple-launch-rocket-
system battalion. So, they have four battalions under them, but those are all for
peace-time. In other words, I will give the 32nd AANDC federal resources to train
their units but when their units go to war, they do not necessarily, probably not at
all, go to war with the 32nd AANDC. But that commander's responsibilities are
just like mine are. His are to take the resources and train those Avenger
battalions and the MLRS battalion to go to war, and they may go scattered
across; one may go to Korea, and one may go to southwest Asia, or something
like that. The third major unit that we have, that is commanded also by a
general, is the troop command. Under a troop command, again, that unit is not
an organic unit like a brigade. It is not going to go to war together [as one unit],
but they have several battalions under him: a Special Forces battalion, an
aviation battalion, and maintenance battalions. They are all trained in peace-time
to go to war. The battalions will go separately. They do not go under this troop
command. That is our third major headquarters. Then, the fourth one is
commanded by a colonel, and that is an area support group out in Miami. Again,
an area support group headquarters has maintenance units, engineering units,
quartermaster units and that kind of thing, as an area support group, but they are
really designed to go as a headquarters and have five or six battalions assigned
to them in any arrangement at all. So, we are pretty well structured from
company, battalion or unit and MACOMs, but all the MACOMs do not go
together. The major commands do not go to war together.
G: How about the Air National Guard, their major units?
H: The Air National Guard major unit is the 125th Fighter Wing, and that is located in
Jacksonville, Florida. It is an Air Defense unit, and they fly F-15s, on real-life air-
interdiction missions, from the coastline of Charleston, South Carolina, down
around the coast of Florida up into the panhandle of Florida. Then it is handled
off to another Air Guard unit from another state somewhere. So, the Air Guard
has utilized their flying wings in a way that is a little different from what the Army
does. Today, as we speak here in 1999, the 125th Fighter Wing is just coming
back. Some came back today, [and] some will come back tomorrow, from
Turkey and flying the northern watch mission over northern Iraq. So, those are
the kind of things that unit does. We have, also, a southeast air-defense sector
with the Air Guard, which is another large unit, which has all the radar
responsibility there at Tindall Air Force Base in Panama City. They have the
radars for the southeast United States, for the coastline of the United States.
That is an Air Guard unit, a fairly new mission for us. Then, the other large unit
that I have in the Air Guard is called the 202 Red Horse, and that is an
engineering unit that builds runways and all kinds of vertical and horizontal
G: How many of the pilots are commercial pilots?
H: A good number of them are. A lot of them are just businessmen in the city. A
good number of our folks who fly have gotten out of the Air Force or the Navy
and fly commercially and fly for us in the F-15s.
G: In your experience, how active have the governors been in the supervision and
maintenance of the National Guard?
H: I have worked for two governors, now: for Governor Jeb Bush [Florida governor,
1998-present] for just a few months and for Governor Lawton Chiles [Florida
governor, 1991-1998] for about six years. Governor Chiles was as involved as I
wanted him to be, but we were not a squeaky-wheel for him. I mean, he had a
lot of other things going on, in terms of state government. So, we had a very,
very fine relationship with him. He was 100 percent supportive of us and did
everything in support of us, legislatively, that we asked him to do in support of
our soldiers, with some legislation and our budget and working] very closely with
us with our congressional delegation for the same kind of thing, legislation and
budget. But, [he] was kind of a hands-off governor. He did not do a lot of calling
and talking to me about things. Once in a while, I would get a phone-call from
him, and that would be to discuss something that he, maybe, had impending with
immigration. He was concerned a lot in those last few years about immigration of
Haitians and Cubans, as we had the boat-lifts and all those kinds of things
coming in. So those kinds of things. He was very supportive of us, and of the
Guard, in general. He came to speak to us when we asked him to. He did a lot
of things for us. Governor Bush is new. He is extremely supportive of the Guard
and has seen us in several things. He saw us in the instance of when he was a
candidate, when he came to visit with us to talk about our counter-drug operation
that we have that goes on twenty-four hours a day, as we work with Customs and
DEA, the Drug Enforcement Agency, from all over south Florida, mainly, but in
other places, too. But he wanted to know about the counter-drugs that has about
180 of our soldiers on a day-to-day basis. He also has seen us in the role of a
very solemn affair with Governor Chiles' death and the military protocol that we
were involved with in that. Also, in his own inauguration, he has seen us in that
job where you come out of the BDUs, or the battle dress uniforms, and go into
your dress blues and your protocol things. Of course, in the fires, when we had
some fires he recently, not nearly as bad as in 1998. But here in 1999, we have
had some fires, although they have died off now, and he saw us in that role, in an
emergency-management kind of role. So he has been extremely supportive. We
have gone through one legislative session with him, and he was very supportive
of all of our legislation, both for legislative changes, although there were not
many, and also the budget in the legislature of the state. So, he is engaged, and
he corresponds with me by e-mail. That is the way he likes to do it, and I like to
do that. Certainly, I defer to whatever he wants to do. But, I have never sent him
a message that I did not get a response from within twenty-four hours. I keep
him informed that way, and we use e-mail. He is a young man and has a very
flat organization, no pyramid to it. I can get to him. I work for him directly, and I
have never had any difficulty getting to him when I needed to talk to him.
G: Do you have any personal anecdotes from your time with Governor Chiles, since
you served with him longest?
H: He liked to hunt. I am not a hunter, but we had him come out to Camp Blanding
one time, because Camp Blanding is a state-owned and state-operated military
base here, south of Jacksonville. Governor Chiles had never been there and of
course, as a commander-in-chief-and he is listed that way by law, as a
commander-in-chief of the Florida National Guard, and each governor is, of
course-he came over to Camp Blanding. [I was fortunate enough] to be with him
while he was getting ready to go turkey-hunting with some folks the next day, to
have a chance to be with him and get to know him as just a really down-home
person. There was no pretense, and he just really was an interesting and
wonderful person to be around. I had a lot of fun with him at Blanding and
showing him around Blanding and letting him fire some of the weapons and all
that. He loved to fire weapons, so we took him out on some rifle-ranges and that
kind of thing. We just had a great time with him. I think the other is, the
Wednesday before he passed away on Saturday, he had all the National Guard
leadership in and their wives to have a luncheon at the mansion with him and
Mrs. Chiles. That was a wonderful time for all of us. He was such a personal
guy and had a great respect for the Guard. We gave him an M-2 carbine like he
had carried in Korea. He was a forward-observer in Korea, in the artillery, and he
always reminded me that he had only made first lieutenant. Of course, I
reminded him that he had done pretty well in the out-years. But he loved
weapons, so we gave him this weapon on the Wednesday before he died on
Saturday. But there is a prelude to that, because one time he was meeting on a
very difficult issue, and I do not remember what the political issue was. So,
before I could get the carbine, we got him the bayonet that fit on the carbine, and
we went over to see him because he had made a comment in the paper that
somebody said to him, I guess a reporter said to him, what will you do if this does
not work? He said, I am going to fix bayonets and charge. So, we got him a
bayonet and presented that to him in his office. He was ripe for that kind of thing.
He loved those kind of little things, and he used military language a lot of times
like that, fix bayonets and charge. So we just had a great time with him. He was
a wonderful person. I never was very close to him personally. We were not
personal friends. I did not know him when I first interviewed with him, but I had a
great amount of respect for him and what he accomplished.
G: What part did the Guard play in the state funeral?
H: We played a major part. The protocol part of that is where the Guard has a lot of
expertise, that is not so much on a state funeral like that, because it is very
unusual to have a governor die in office like that. But we are so oriented toward
protocol and tradition, and knowing that he was a veteran, that really was easy
for us to say, if you want a military funeral, there are some ways to do this. We
can provide some things. Certainly, we can provide the aircraft to fly over the
firing-party and those kinds of things. So the more we opened ourselves up to
that with the staff-which was kind of in shock, of course, with the untimely death
like that-the more they allowed us to do things. So we were joined at the hip
with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, all the law-enforcement
agencies, and everybody who did the planning. We were really engaged.
Because at the inauguration the adjutant general is, by law, part of the inaugural
party and escorts the governor, they allowed me to do that for the funeral. It was
almost a similar kind of thing, to step into that, to what we had done at the
inauguration of his second term. So I escorted Mrs. Chiles, throughout the two or
three days, everywhere that she went, to the cemetery and to, of course, the
viewing and the church and all of those things. So the Guard had a very visible
role. The Honor Guard was also involved and, of course, always in dress-blue
uniform. It was always involved with the moving of the casket, because it did
move in a lot of places. In his case, you probably remember that they moved the
body out on Highway 90 and back where he had walked, where he had done the
Walkin' Lawton [a reference to Governor Chiles' campaign tactic of walking
Florida highways to meet voters]. The family wanted that trail kind of replayed,
revisited. So, we did that, and we had military escort along with that. So, the
military was visible everywhere, and it was all National Guard. They did us a
very proud job.
G: During your time as adjutant general, has the post-Cold War period budget cuts
affected the Guard?
H: Yes. It has been really pretty traumatic in a lot of cases. We fought it, and we
fight it, on a basis of not necessarily thinking we are going to fight it and win, but
we are going to fight it and make sure that the analysis is correct, instead of,
without analysis, just somebody saying, you need to cut here and cut there. We
have kind of forced people, the Guard families as a whole, I think, nationwide has
forced them to say, let's make sure that this makes sense to us and that we are
doing it the right way, not just arbitrarily cutting people. Of course, all of the
active services and all of the Reserve services have come down in numbers of
people, and rightly so, to a large degree. In Florida, when I came to the adjutant
general position in 1992, we were already under a draw-down plan because the
Cold War and the [Berlin] Wall had come down a couple of years earlier. So, we
were already in a draw-down plan that was going to take us down substantially,
more than it actually has. I guess we were close to 12,000 people in the Army
Guard when I got here in 1992, and we are at 11,600 now. We have only closed
three armories, and all three of those were temporary armories that we wanted to
close. That is not true [because] we had one that was a little better of an armory
that we gave back to the city of Jacksonville. As opposed to some other states
who closed twenty and thirty and forty armories, we came out pretty well. Part of
it is because Florida is a fairly large state. Part of the philosophy was, at one
time here, if we are the fourth-largest state, we ought to be the fourth-largest
National Guard. I did not buy that. I just could not see that as we looked at the
demographics of the state of Florida. You have a lot of people, and you certainly
have a lot of young people, but you have a lot of people who are elderly or older
a generation. They are the seniors, and they do not have a lot of children, and
they are not going to be involved in the Guard. So, we settled down and did a
strategic plan in 1993, and we decided, without trying to make any preconceived
numbers at all, what could we really support? As we did our analysis, the
numbers came out to be between 11,000 and 13,000. So, we are right in there
now. We are close to that 11,000 figure. Whether we will get back up there or
not, I do not know. It just depends on what kind of units they will allow us to
have. The Army itself is struggling. So, with the draw-down that they have had
and, of course, with the missions they have had, you look back on history and
say, well, the end of the Cold War, the Army is not going to be needed that much
anymore. That was what everybody thought. There was an article in the paper
just two days ago [that stated], all of the services, including the Army, are saying
that because of the operational tempo with us being so involved around the world
that here we are now; we are going to be needing more people rather than less,
because we are driving a lot of our people out, because they are gone from
home all of the time. This is out of the active, not as much out of the Guard.
Now, the Guard is involved in things like multi-component units and integrated
units and things, where they are strictly linked to the active. So if the active has
to go do something, the Guard and Reserve go with them. There is hardly any
way to break units. They are all so linked to together. On one hand, the Guard
wants that. We want to be needed. That is kind of a human-nature thing. On the
other hand, do we want to deploy the Guard and Reserve every time the active
goes somewhere? Because we are not active. We do have two lives to live.
Most of soldiers and airmen are citizen-soldiers, for the majority of them. I think
in the Army [Guard], probably, we have about 1,700 full-time people out of the
10,600 [total], so the majority are M-to-A traditional soldiers, or however you want
to call them.
G: How has the Guard affected your civilian career through the years?
H: Good and bad at times, depending on who the employer is, like every
Guardsmen, I think, even though I am essentially a full-time Guardsman now,
because I am on active duty, at least with the state, as I do this every day. Even
though I am not a citizen soldier anymore as such, I try not to ever let myself
forget some of the things that I went through. During my career of over thirty
years in the Guard, or more than that now, I have really hit the crossroads many
times, or at least a fork in the road where I could have gone either way.
Sometimes, it was just family pressure, where you just had young children and
social activities and civic activities and church and things that you needed more
time to do. It was a decision to either stay with the Guard and gut it out or
whatever. So, that has been a big effect on me. Every time I get to one of those,
I just weigh what another few months in the position I am in will do, because one
of the good things about the National Guard or the military itself is, if you are
doing a job that either you do not like or you do not have time for, in the Guard,
probably, in another couple of years, you are going to be changed anyway. So,
you have something new and fresh to look forward to. There are times-I do not
know that I've had this happen to me consciously but, today, we work with our
people and if you have a person who has really been working hard as a
commander or senior staff person, where they have been riding horse pretty hard
for two or three or four years, or maybe six or eight years, and they need a break,
you can give them a job that is not quite as busy. That does not mean it is some
cushy job, but some of them are obviously more busy than others just because of
the amount of responsibility. So, it has affected me. On the other hand, it has
affected me in a big way because many of my employers, and I was a real-estate
developer, have number one, respected the fact that I was in the Guard and that
I was a major lieutenant colonel or whatever it was, and they knew that the
training that I was getting from the military side brought something to the table for
their company or corporation, that there was something special there, too. The
hard times, of course, were being gone. But on the other hand, it was what you
brought to the table as a professional military guy when you put that uniform on
or even when you did not have it on. So yes, I hit the crossroads or the forks in
the road many times and happened to stay with it. We have lost a lot of people
who did not stay with it. They just could not for whatever reason, as they climbed
the corporate ladder, they could not climb the military ladder too. They just could
not do that [because of the] employer pressure or family pressure or whatever it
G: Going back to talking about the National Guard and some civil disturbance, law
enforcement, what is the role? Does the National Guard have arrest powers?
H: No. Hurricane Andrew is probably the classic [scenario] for us and really brought
out for me the key role of the Guard in one of these situations. First, you have to
break these things down into two. One is natural disasters, and the other is law
enforcement or civil disturbance. Within a natural disaster, you still have the
times when the Guard is called on to be in a security role, that is working with law
enforcement. What we found was, in the very early days of Hurricane Andrew,
we had just finished a civil-disturbance situation in California when Andrew hit.
With the civil-disturbance situation in California, the President decided to
federalize the California National Guard. When they did [that], they melded the
Guard and the Reserve in together and the Marines and the Army. I guess those
were the two major services. They put the Guard right in there with them as a
federal force. Immediately, because of the act called posse comitatus that does
not allow federal troops to be in a law-enforcement role in a civilian situation, the
federalized California Guard was a problem. They could go, like any other
federal troops, and knock down a riot if it started, but they cannot stay in a
position, and I guess this is kind of simplified way of saying it. They cannot stay
in a preventative situation like the National Guard can on state duty. So when it
came to Hurricane Andrew, we knew right away that we could not put 6,400
people on duty, right away. I mean, that is what it built to in the first couple of
days. We knew that it was much bigger than we could handle with 6,400 people,
and we did not have the right kind of people, necessarily, or the right kind of
units. So, the governor said to me, we are getting pressure on federalizing the
Florida Guard; tell me the pros and cons. This was Governor Chiles. So, I
looked at the pros and cons. I was fairly new in my position, myself. I looked at
the pros and cons, and the first things I told him was, Governor, you will lose total
control of the Florida National Guard if you let them federalize. I cannot go and
help the Florida Department of Law Enforcement do a security mission in these
curfew-lines we had, you know, 260 square miles and no lights and whatever. I
cannot be used in any kind of security mission if you do that to us, so you will
lose all of us. We cannot federalize just part of the Guard. You federalize
everybody. So, you can shift us now if you bring in the federal military, which we
knew they were going to and we had to have. You can have the federal military
do the humanitarian things that we are trying to do now: at distribution points,
going out and helping people, medics and whatever. You can have them do that
and put all of my people, or at least have the majority of all my people available,
to help law enforcement as they need it, because it eats up a lot of people when
you have that much damage done. So, he decided to do that. He allowed us,
then, to stay on state active-duty, and that worked pretty well.
G: During these kinds of incidents, who is actually the commander on the ground,
the National Guard guy or the local law-enforcement?
H: What happens with that is that the Guard is usually in a support-role. Otherwise,
we have taken over. So, we work through a sheriff in a county. That is who we
would work with in a law-enforcement role. We work with the sheriff. In a
disaster role, we would work with the local county-emergency manager. We do
that through the state-emergency manager in Tallahassee, and they would give
us the missions that we would have to do. But we work very closely with all of
the local people. As a state agency, we are not going to give our units to the
local people and say, here, you use them. I am still going to stay in command, if
you will, of all the Guard units. But through Tallahassee, through the emergency
manager for disasters, and through the commissioner of the Florida Department
of Law Enforcement on security missions, we are going to work through the state
that way. So, we do not just, what we call, "chop" or give our people to the local
sheriff, but we work under their direction, because they know what they need to
have done. The hardest part for a Guard unit to do is go into a community
somewhere and start doing work, because we see that work needs to be done. I
mean, a road needs to be cleared, people need medical attention, or whatever it
is. People need water or food or whatever it is. But we do not know if we are
doing it in the right place, on the right part. There may be roads that need to be
cleared over here, and we are turning them over in another place somewhere.
So we go to the local people, and it is like, we are here in support of you. But,
the centralized-control has to come through my headquarters.
G: You spoke a little earlier, sir, about the war on illegal drugs. Can you briefly talk
a little bit about what the Guard is doing with that?
H: Sure. We do several things. We work, first, in the interdiction role, and that is,
again, in a support-role, with Customs and the governor. Each year, the
governor of the state has a counter-drug plan that we help him build, and that
includes the Guard. Then, the governor's people work with the federal agencies:
Customs, drug enforcement agencies of all kinds, the Florida Department of Law
Enforcement. We are in a support role for them, so we work in, what we call,
interdiction, and that is simply trying to keep drugs from coming into the state,
however we can do that. But we do not do it independently; it is always within
law enforcement chains or Customs or any of those folks who we work with in
support. The second way is, not just interdiction but then internally educating our
youth and our people to the dangers of drugs. We do that through, what we call,
a drug demand-reduction course that we teach in the high schools with our
recruiters. We send our recruiters, who naturally go to the high schools anyway,
recruiting soldiers. They teach a five-hour block of education. We reach into 200
high schools, about 30,000 to 40,000 students a year, on the dangers of drugs.
So, we are trying to do our part, both interdicting and also in education. The third
thing that we do is, we have a zero[-tolerance] drug-policy in the Guard, and we
randomly test about 70 percent of our soldiers a year. We cannot get 100
percent because there just are not enough funds, but we do a random drug- test
of about 70 percent of them a year. We have a zero-tolerance policy: if
somebody is caught with drugs, from marijuana to heroin, in their system-and we
have a very specific way, of course, of doing that with chain-of-custody and all
that-if they are caught with those, then they are out of the Guard. We run 1 to 2
percent failure rates on those over the 70 percent we do, which is fairly typical of
any large organization. Those are the three ways that we really work to counter
G: Going into talking a little bit about training, what is the primary focus of the
National Guard's training? What is your training mission?
H: Because our dollars come mostly from federal, we spend 99 percent of our
training time on the federal mission. Every unit has a different federal mission for
the infantry, of course. It is a typical entry mission, close with and destroy the
enemy. That is done, of course, in a lot of ways. All of our training is done
toward the war fight, the federal training in combat operations. Because we are
trained and organized, and equipped, and disciplined, to do the federal war-time
mission for combat operations, then we feel like we could just task-organize
ourselves differently to do whatever we need to do for the governor and the
citizens of the state in a disaster or a civil-disturbance. So we would take infantry
units that are trained to do the war fighting, combat operations, and we can task-
organize them to set up road blocks to help traffic control, to do anything we
need to have them do. We pretty well take our soldiers' organizational skills,
their discipline, and let them do any of the state missions that we have to do. So,
all of the training is oriented specifically for whatever their combat mission is.
G: Do you feel like the one weekend and month/two weeks annual-training
requirement is enough for the units?
H: I think it is enough if you look at what we do in, what we call, post-mobilization
training. Post-mobilization training is absolutely the key to what we will do before
we go off to war. What you do in a Guard and Reserve unit, I think, as opposed
to what the active can do, because they have more time to do it, is that you do
not try to be all things to all people. You try to take several mission-essential
tasks that are, kind of, core-competency tasks. We use those core-
competencies, then, to build on the post-mobilization training or, in other words,
after we get called to go to get trained prior to going to war. But we have a pretty
good jump on everything if we have done these core-competencies. They are
basic things that every unit needs to know how to do, so we do those. We do
those well, on the weekends and in the summer training, and we then hone our
skills collectively in, what we call, collective- or unit-training when we go to post-
mobilization training. Typically for a Guard unit, certainly a combat unit, it would
be forty-five to ninety days before we would deploy anybody to anywhere in the
world, mainly because of the transportation. But, if a theater commander-in-chief
wanted a Guard infantry brigade, they could probably get them within a couple or
three weeks from the time they were called up. They may have to take them to
the country they were going to, to train for specific stuff, but they would come
pretty well-equipped to do the basic things that they need. So our training is all
oriented that way. We would all love to have more time, but we just do not have
it. It is not in the cards, so we use our training time to the best advantage. The
truth is that most of our leaders, non-commissioned officers and officer leaders of
almost every rank, spend a lot more than the two days and month and the two
weeks of annual training. They usually are working, maybe, a couple of
weekends a month instead of one, depending on the rank and the
G: What opportunities does the Florida Guard have to participate in the training
centers, like JRTC and NTC?
H: That football is kind of kicked around a lot, but right now with the infantry
brigades, these combat training centers are available to the Guard's combat
units. I think right now, we are on an every seven-year rotation, and we are
trying to find a happy medium between every four and five years. Every four
years is probably a little too quick to come off of one of those, because it takes a
two-year train-up for leaders to train up to go to these. So, if you do two years
and then you do that summer, that is three years that you have been working on
it. Then, if you only lay off three more years, you have started right away in
training again. So, we are trying to get it down to every five years for the Guard
to participate in this CTC rotational combat training center rotation. That is
probably about where we will end up. It is kind of being kicked around right now.
But we have plenty of opportunity to do that, and all of our units, all of our infantry
brigades and divisions, will be able to go through those.
G: Do individual Guard soldiers ever have opportunities to do more active-duty time
on a volunteer basis?
H: Sure. We have a good number of our people who, if they want to, can go off for
short tours and, for the first time in history, the last two or three years, we have
had Guard commanders who have started commanding active units for short
periods of time. We have all kinds of opportunities for that, for individuals and/or
other units, because there is so much integration between the Guard, Reserve,
and active. They can do it in the Sinai. Here, we have been in the Sinai Desert
for some time with a battalion-sized unit as a peacekeeping kind of unit. The
Guard has sent, at least two times now, composite-units, so that if a soldier
wanted to be part of an infantry battalion and go to Sinai for a six-months
rotation, he can do it. There are all kinds of opportunities like that, and they are
probably going to increase.
G: Without the daily physical-training opportunities that active units have, how does
the National Guard maintain standards in that area?
H: It is one of the most difficult things we have, to keep our people in peak kind of
condition when they are really citizen-soldiers. We wrestle with it all the time.
We are much better than we were five years ago, but it is an individual soldier's
responsibility. I think we have probably had people use it to get out, because
they know that they can get out if they do not stay in condition. We do not see as
much of that anymore as we used to. When our soldiers go off to schools now,
to Army schools, the first thing that do is get tested for PT, and they know that.
So we have some who get sent right back home. That is always embarrassing to
us, but it helps re-emphasize the fact that our soldiers must be in some kind of
basic condition. They do not all have to maximize the PT test, but they need to,
at least, do reasonably well on it and, certainly, meet the standard on the
physical-fitness test. It is a struggle because people have to do this at home
between their drills. We can do all we want to by having them come to drill and
taking a PT test every drill. If you are not doing it between, you are not going to
get there. So, it is an individual thing, and our first-line leaders work on this all
the time. It is a constant battle.
[End of side A2]
G: Sir, during your time in the National Guard, what do you think of the quality of the
soldiers over the years?
H: It has been an interesting thing. When I got into the Guard in the early 1960s,
right off active-duty, our soldiers, of course, were wonderful people, but they
were not nearly as educated as our people are today. That has just increased
over the years. I think the volunteers who have gotten in the Guard have been
marvelous. I do not know why that is. I have not understood exactly why that
would make a difference. We talked about the draft earlier, and I think the idea
that we have volunteers now, it may be some motivational or personal attitude
thing that says, I want to be in there doing that, because nobody has to be in
here to do it. We just got an amazing number of high-quality people. It is always
interesting in the Guard; as I move around in my role as the adjutant general, I
talk to, of course, a lot of soldiers, or try to. The ones who I talk to, for the most
part, are the traditional or M-day, or mobilization-day, soldiers, who have other
lives. My most common question to a soldier is, what do you do in your other life,
because I am standing and looking at him and he is in uniform of the U.S. Army
or the U.S. Air Force. I have said, what is your other life? I am always amazed
to know not only what they do but the things and skills-and I call them talents,
energies, abilities, skills, and gifts-that these people bring to the Guard, to the
uniform, to the service wherever they are serving. It is true with all of the
Reserve components, not just the Guard. I say the Guard because that is what I
know the best. The quality of our people is just so much better. I looked at a
study a few months ago, as I was trying to sell a piece of legislation for an
education bill to our legislature. Apparently, if you think about it, in the
agricultural age, the citizen was used to handling guns and being outdoors and
all that, and that translated pretty well to the military. Then, if you went to the
industrial age, that line really diverged because people moved to the cities and
they were not used to weapons and being outdoors and those kinds of things.
That did not translate too well to the military. Today, in the automation age or
computer age, the lines have converged again. People in the military today have
to be smarter because, as I mentioned earlier, the Avenger weapon system that
we have for surface-to-air missiles, you cannot be totally ignorant and do that
kind of work. I mean, a multiple-launch rocket-system, that is all computerized.
All those kinds of things. Most everything we do today, even our radios, are all
computerized. So our people are just smarter, and their civilian and military skills
have converged. They bring their civilian skills into the military, and they are
much, much smarter. And not just in those kinds of skills, but I think that they are
just a better educated group all together. We have really gone for quality in
Florida. We have tried not to take any Category IVs. It hurt us a little bit in
G: Category IV is?
H: Category IV is someone who does not have their civilian education, high-school
education. We have tried not to take those because they do not learn as quickly.
Because of that, our quality has gone up, but it has gone up not just in the Guard
and not just in Florida. It has gone up all over. So, I am just amazed at the
quality of people we have. Sometimes, I ask myself, why are they doing this?
Why are they out there doing the soldier-things that are so difficult to do? I
mean, spending the weekends away from family, in the mud sometimes, all
weekend doing stuff. I mean, why do people do that? They do it, I really do
think, because they are patriots. But, they are absolutely smarter, more
educated, and just a higher quality and a higher caliber of people than we had
twenty years ago. I have a great admiration for them, and I really respect the fact
that they are here. What it does is, it makes us, as leaders, be on our toes more
because these people expect more out of us. You cannot have the old-line
leader who is not going to keep growing themselves, because they will get
outstripped by the people they are trying to lead. So the quality of our people is
much improved over the last fifteen or twenty years.
G: Sir, why do you think we need a National Guard? Would not a large active-duty
force be sufficient to meet our national-security needs?
H: I think it goes back to the total-army reason, the reason that General Creighton
Abrams right after Vietnam started to work on, the Total Army that you need to
carry the grassroots of America with you when you go to war. If you have only a
professional army, then you have the people you are paying to fight the nation's
wars. You can look at World War I and II, and there is no way in the world that a
professional army is going to take care of World War I or II. You could not even
afford a large-enough army to support a world war, if you have that. Some of the
brush-fires, of course, you could do that, but you cannot do it this other way.
People are not going to support some of the armies, or the fighting, if we do not
have people who they know have gone to do it. So, it is a grassroots...know that
your neighbor has gone to fight the war for you. The other part is that everybody
does not want to be a professional in the Army, but there are a lot of people who
want the privilege of serving their country. Who are we to say that the average
American citizen who wants to become a soldier during wartime, and be a citizen
during peacetime, cannot fight for their country? I mean, that would be a terrible
thing for us [to say]. You can go into all kinds of things on the efficiency and the
cost and all that. The fact is, it is a lot less expensive to have a Guard and
Reserve, or a Reserve component or however you want to put it, than it is to
have everybody on active. The fact that there is a transference now between the
Guard, and the Reserve, and the active on a fairly regular basis with a lot of
people and a lot of rotations in there-somebody goes on active-duty, and they
decide not to stay forever, and then they come back and they have a Guard to go
to-it is good for the nation, because they bring with them an institutional
knowledge and a training base. They did not want to lose what they had in the
Army, but they did not want to stay in the Army for the rest of their career. They
are not professionals but, now, they bring something and keep it and as a citizen,
we get a lot more out of them because they have kept that training and they have
used it for another several years in the Reserve component somewhere. So, I
think there are just a lot of reasons. For me, the basic reason [was], I wanted to
be able to serve my nation, not lose everything I had gained on the two years I
was on active-duty and the four years I was in ROTC. I ought to have the right to
be able to serve when I need to and go defend my country if I want to.
Everybody does not want to do that, but there are a whole lot that do, and that is
why most of them are in the Guard and Reserve now. I think those are the basic
reasons I could give.
G: This concludes the General Harrison interview.