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McKinley Welcomes Plan for National Guard Vice Chief: Gen. Craig McKinley, National Guard Bureau chief, told lawmakers that he backs the plan working its way through Congress to establish the position of a National Guard vice chief manned by a three-star general officer. "We fully support that. We know it's in an era of diminished resources and our rank structures coming down, but we appreciate all the support we can get," he said recently before the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense panel. Having a vice chief would help the Guard function as "a full-spectrum bureau," said McKinley. "Without that position filled, we can't represent the states in the territories at the critical meetings and the junctures that we have to attend," he stated. Plus, it would add to the Guard's clout inside the Pentagon, he said. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who co-chairs the Senate National Guard Caucus, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), told McKinley that he and Graham "have had discussions . . . at the highest levels on this and it will happen." Already, the House Armed Services Committee's mark of the Fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill supports establishing the vice chief position. (See also McKinley prepared testimony.)