National Guard May 2012 : Page 10

CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE On to the Hill WEAR MY HEART on my sleeve. If you are a regular reader of this column, you know it. I love the National Guard and I am passionate about doing right by our force and the citizens we serve. But I also believe in the system, imper-fect as it is sometimes. If good people fi ght the good fi ght, I believe the right side will prevail. Or at least a reasonable compro-mise can be reached. That’s why I was optimistic when the defense secretary invited the Council of Governors (CoG) to submit an alternative budget plan to the Air Force’s proposed cuts to the Air Guard. I thought it set the stage for a compro-mise, one that would best serve all of the military’s missions—overseas and domes-tic—in these diffi cult fi scal times, especially after congressional leaders came out so strongly against the Guard cuts. I thought we could prevent things from getting even uglier. I now think I hoped for too much. In retrospect, I should have been a bit more cynical. I should’ve listened to that little voice in my head that kept saying, Don’t forget about the disingenuous nature of the Air Force staff . The CoG and the adjutants general produced in a matter of days an alternative plan that met the Air Force’s stated criteria for consideration. Their way forward spread the Air Force’s manpower cuts more evenly across the Total Air Force. It preserved the Air Guard’s invaluable experience and expertise. And it saved $700 million more than the Air Force proposal. It wasn’t everything we wanted, but it was right for America. Unfortunately, the little voice in my head was dead-on. The Air Force circulated a shameful memo on Capitol Hill last month rejecting the CoG proposal and misrepre-senting both the alternative plan and the process to date. It was, as I should have predicted, disin-genuous. I Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala Chairman of the Board NGAUS Air Force offi cials aren’t listening to anybody. Not even to one of their predecessors . I’m livid. A viable alternative is served up and rejected with little discussion, let alone constructive negotiation. Talk about one-dimensional thinking and hyper-paro-chialism. But the Air Force knew what it was do-ing. The Offi ce of the Secretary of Defense took over talks with the CoG in late March, but the memo ended any chance for real compromise. OSD now risks a fi ght inside the Pentagon if it accepts much of the gov-ernors’ proposal. Air Force offi cials aren’t listening to any-body. Not even to one of their predecessors. Retired Gen. Ronald Fogleman, the Air Force chief of staff from 1994 to 1997, told an audience at the Air Force Association in Arlington, Va., last month that the service’s No. 1 priority right now should be “heal-ing” the internal feud. “We’re going into an era when we can’t think about what is active, what is Guard and what is Reserve,” he said. “We have to think Total Air Force. We need friends and we need advocates. So, we have to get over this internal fi ght.” General Fogleman is right. This must be a collaborative process if it is to be success-ful. And as my column from last month pointed out, it simply is not. This is the situation as I write this. I hope things change before this magazine reaches you, but that seems unlikely. The fi ght now moves to that critical hill in Washington, D.C. That’s why, like my predecessors, I’m calling the Guard to arms. Not literally, of course, but fi guratively. Lawmakers must, again, be the great equalizer and “We the People” must make our will known. This matter didn’t have to get to this point. A showdown in Congress won’t be pretty. But this is where we are. We have prevailed here before and we will again. That’s why I’m so proud to be a Guards-man. The NGAUS chairman can be contacted at frank.vavala@ngaus.org. 10 | Na tional Guard

Chairman's Massage

On to the Hill<br /> <br /> IWEAR MY HEART on my sleeve. If you are a regular reader of this column, you know it. I love the National Guard and I am passionate about doing right by our force and the citizens we serve.<br /> <br /> But I also believe in the system, imperfect as it is sometimes. If good people fight the good fight, I believe the right side will prevail. Or at least a reasonable compromise can be reached.<br /> <br /> That’s why I was optimistic when the defense secretary invited the Council of Governors (CoG) to submit an alternative budget plan to the Air Force’s proposed cuts to the Air Guard.<br /> <br /> I thought it set the stage for a compromise, one that would best serve all of the military’s missions—overseas and domestic— in these difficult fiscal times, especially after congressional leaders came out so strongly against the Guard cuts.<br /> <br /> I thought we could prevent things from getting even uglier.<br /> <br /> I now think I hoped for too much. In retrospect, I should have been a bit more cynical. I should’ve listened to that little voice in my head that kept saying, Don’t forget about the disingenuous nature of the Air Force staff .<br /> <br /> The CoG and the adjutants general produced in a matter of days an alternative plan that met the Air Force’s stated criteria for consideration.<br /> <br /> Their way forward spread the Air Force’s manpower cuts more evenly across the Total Air Force. It preserved the Air Guard’s invaluable experience and expertise. And it saved $700 million more than the Air Force proposal.<br /> <br /> It wasn’t everything we wanted, but it was right for America.<br /> <br /> Unfortunately, the little voice in my head was dead-on. The Air Force circulated a shameful memo on Capitol Hill last month rejecting the CoG proposal and misrepresenting both the alternative plan and the process to date.<br /> <br /> It was, as I should have predicted, disingenuous.<br /> <br /> I’m livid. A viable alternative is served up and rejected with little discussion, let alone constructive negotiation. Talk about one-dimensional thinking and hyper-parochialism.<br /> <br /> But the Air Force knew what it was doing. The Office of the Secretary of Defense took over talks with the CoG in late March, but the memo ended any chance for real compromise. OSD now risks a fight inside the Pentagon if it accepts much of the governors’ proposal.<br /> <br /> Air Force officials aren’t listening to anybody. Not even to one of their predecessors.<br /> <br /> Retired Gen. Ronald Fogleman, the Air Force chief of staff from 1994 to 1997, told an audience at the Air Force Association in Arlington, Va., last month that the service’s No. 1 priority right now should be “healing” the internal feud.<br /> <br /> “We’re going into an era when we can’t think about what is active, what is Guard and what is Reserve,” he said. “We have to think Total Air Force. We need friends and we need advocates. So, we have to get over this internal fight.” <br /> <br /> <br /> General Fogleman is right. This must be a collaborative process if it is to be successful. And as my column from last month pointed out, it simply is not.<br /> <br /> This is the situation as I write this. I hope things change before this magazine reaches you, but that seems unlikely.<br /> <br /> The fight now moves to that critical hill in Washington, D.C. <br /> <br /> That’s why, like my predecessors, I’m calling the Guard to arms. Not literally, of course, but figuratively. Lawmakers must, again, be the great equalizer and “We the People” must make our will known.<br /> <br /> This matter didn’t have to get to this point. A showdown in Congress won’t be pretty. But this is where we are. We have prevailed here before and we will again.<br /> <br /> That’s why I’m so proud to be a Guardsman.<br /> <br /> The NGAUS chairman can be contacted at<br /> frank.vavala@ngaus.org.

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