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Bracing for a Challenging Future: As the United States moves into austere fiscal times, one of the biggest challenges for the US military will be determining how to maintain a balanced force of Active Duty and National Guard elements, said Gen. Craig McKinley, National Guard Bureau chief. "We have to find a way, all of us do, to convince our services and the Department [of Defense] that this investment [in the National Guard] has been a wise investment and that this nation . . . deserves to have a National Guard that's trained, equipped, and well led, because there will be significant challenges to our nation in the future," said McKinley during a May 23 hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense panel. As McKinley prepares for retirement after 38 years of service, he said this is the one issue that still worries him most. He posed the question: "How do we keep this magnificent capability, this low-cost, high-impact force of citizen soldiers . . . in the game . . . to keep us viable, to keep the investment in our competency at a level that the nation may need and sustain as a hedge for future operations?" (McKinley's prepared testimony)