National Guard April 2012 : Page 16

CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE Read Between the Lines A Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala Chairman of the Board NGAUS We had good people in those closed-door talks that resulted in the Air Force budget proposal. Unfortunately, they were outnumbered . LOT OF angry words followed the Air Force’s fi scal 2013 budget pro-posal to cut people and planes from the Air National Guard. Shoot, I said a lot of them myself. And “shoot” was rarely one of them. We had every right to be angry. We were smacked in the face—disrespected by our colleagues in the Air Force. Members of Congress heard us. So did the governors. They share our pain to lose 5,100 airmen and almost 200 aircraft. Many of them are on our side in this dustup. But some unfortunate words have been directed at the wrong people. I’ve heard complaints that our leadership stepped aside while the Air Force formulat-ed the plans to cut our ranks. Some people think a fi rmer stand by Guard representa-tives in the room could have prevented this. Let me tell you something. We had good people in those closed-door talks. We were represented by men who had our backs. Unfortunately, they were outnumbered. They were participants, not partners, in the process. And they were forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement—a gag or-der—that prevented them from sharing the proceedings with the fi eld. I have no doubt that Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt III, our Air Guard director, and Maj. Gen. William Etter, the deputy director, stood strong. I understand why some people might think these two good men let down the Air Guard. Some of their public statements sound like they favor the Air Force plan. During a press conference in the Penta-gon, Bill Etter told reporters that the Guard was “certainly there at the table.” And General Wyatt testifi ed at a recent hearing before Congress, “Let me say that, in the Air Force corporate process, the Air Guard is allowed a voice and we are allowed to make input into the process, in fact, encouraged to do that.” He continued, “We don’t always agree as we engage in these debates, but the deci-sion has been made, and so, as a Title 10 offi cer, I’m supporting the way ahead.” I won’t interpret that statement for you, but I suggest you read between the lines. I’ll point out what another good friend, Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst, the Ohio adjutant general, told this magazine last month. She said she had “full confi dence” that Wyatt had a good plan when budget talks began, but had little chance of getting it accepted. I agree. If Bud Wyatt had not been in that room, the Air Guard would be facing deeper cuts. We have to remember how the system works. These men are Title 10 (federal) of-fi cers in the Pentagon. They also are sometimes prohibited, as a condition of participation, from divulging information, which, by the way, prevents them from fulfi lling their statutory require-ment as a channel of communications to the states and territories. This needs to change if we are truly to be players in the budget process. And Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the National Guard Bu-reau chief, shouldn’t be muzzled either. Not if he is to do the job Congress intends for him to do in his new seat at the table. I know once decisions are made, these men are bound to support them. This isn’t about courage or loyalty to the Guard. I’m an adjutant general, and I’m sure not every member of my staff agrees with every decision I make. But they salute and carry out those decisions to the best of their ability. That’s what our Air Guard leaders have done. The time to be angry has passed. It’s time now to turn our attention to maintain-ing the most cost-eff ective and experienced force our nation has for these trying times. Shoot, I look forward to that eff ort. And I’m happy to have Bud Wyatt and Bill Etter right where they are. It’s just one more reason I’m proud to be a Guardsman. The NGAUS chairman can be contacted at frank.vavala@ngaus.org. 16 | Na tional Guard

Chairman's Massage

Read Between the Lines<br /> <br /> A LOT OF angry words followed the Air Force’s fiscal 2013 budget proposal to cut people and planes from the Air National Guard.<br /> <br /> Shoot, I said a lot of them myself. And “shoot” was rarely one of them.<br /> <br /> We had every right to be angry. We were smacked in the face—disrespected by our colleagues in the Air Force.<br /> <br /> Members of Congress heard us. So did the governors. They share our pain to lose 5,100 airmen and almost 200 aircraft. Many of them are on our side in this dustup.<br /> <br /> But some unfortunate words have been directed at the wrong people.<br /> <br /> I’ve heard complaints that our leadership stepped aside while the Air Force formulated the plans to cut our ranks. Some people think a firmer stand by Guard representatives in the room could have prevented this.<br /> <br /> Let me tell you something. We had good people in those closed-door talks. We were represented by men who had our backs.<br /> <br /> Unfortunately, they were outnumbered.They were participants, not partners, in the process. And they were forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement—a gag order— that prevented them from sharing the proceedings with the field.<br /> <br /> I have no doubt that Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt III, our Air Guard director, and Maj.Gen. William Etter, the deputy director, stood strong.<br /> <br /> I understand why some people might think these two good men let down the Air Guard. Some of their public statements sound like they favor the Air Force plan.<br /> <br /> During a press conference in the Pentagon, Bill Etter told reporters that the Guard was “certainly there at the table.” <br /> <br /> And General Wyatt testified at a recent hearing before Congress, “Let me say that, in the Air Force corporate process, the Air Guard is allowed a voice and we are allowed to make input into the process, in fact, encouraged to do that.” <br /> <br /> He continued, “We don’t always agree as we engage in these debates, but the decision has been made, and so, as a Title 10 Officer, I’m supporting the way ahead.” <br /> <br /> I won’t interpret that statement for you, but I suggest you read between the lines.<br /> <br /> I’ll point out what another good friend, Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst, the Ohio adjutant general, told this magazine last month.<br /> <br /> She said she had “full confidence” that Wyatt had a good plan when budget talks began, but had little chance of getting it accepted.<br /> <br /> I agree. If Bud Wyatt had not been in that room, the Air Guard would be facing deeper cuts.<br /> <br /> We have to remember how the system works. These men are Title 10 (federal) officers in the Pentagon.<br /> <br /> They also are sometimes prohibited, as a condition of participation, from divulging information, which, by the way, prevents them from fulfilling their statutory requirement as a channel of communications to the states and territories.<br /> <br /> This needs to change if we are truly to be players in the budget process. And Gen.Craig R. McKinley, the National Guard Bureau chief, shouldn’t be muzzled either. Not if he is to do the job Congress intends for him to do in his new seat at the table.<br /> <br /> I know once decisions are made, these men are bound to support them. This isn’t about courage or loyalty to the Guard.<br /> <br /> I’m an adjutant general, and I’m sure not every member of my staff agrees with every decision I make. But they salute and carry out those decisions to the best of their ability.That’s what our Air Guard leaders have done.<br /> <br /> The time to be angry has passed. It’s time now to turn our attention to maintaining the most cost-effective and experienced force our nation has for these trying times.<br /> <br /> Shoot, I look forward to that effort.<br /> <br /> And I’m happy to have Bud Wyatt and Bill Etter right where they are.<br /> <br /> It’s just one more reason I’m proud to be a Guardsman.

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