National Guard June 2012 : Page 12

CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala Chairman of the Board NGAUS We must avoid having our budget pulled into the debate to the point where we are identi ed as a partisan program. HIS IS AN election year. Or had you already heard that? We have a great one-person, one-vote system of nonviolent change for our government, something not every country in the world can claim. And it has been maintained with a lot of spilled blood. Oh, the rhetoric can get heated. And you may not always want to take at face value what one candidate says about the other or about what he or she will do once elected. But, all in all, it’s a wonderful system. Still, an election year can try one’s pa-tience as each side fi ghts for its favorite pro-grams. And with fewer dollars, the fi ghting just might resemble a no-holds-barred cage match before voters go to the polls. Because public money funds the Nation-al Guard, we will be part of that election year hubbub, like it or not. We certainly want the funding that will keep us America’s most e cient and e ec-tive military force. And I think our friends in Congress will see it that way. What we don’t want is to become a political bargaining chip, a shiny bauble held out to induce one side to give in to the other side’s wishes. Our supporters in Congress are both Republicans and Democrats, but they are fi rst and foremost Americans and patriots, who understand the benefi t the nation incurs when its citizen-soldiers and airmen are fully manned, properly trained and adequately equipped. Neither party has a monopoly on patrio-tism. No party wants more than the other to keep America secure and its citizens safe. The devil, as they say, is in the details. How will they accomplish this goal of a safe, secure nation? And that’s for us to decide as individuals. We vote. Or, at least, we should. That’s why we invited the Democratic and Republican candidates to our conference this year, so members can hear directly how they’ll maintain America’s security. I’m writing these words one week after the House Armed Services Committee T Political Realities forcefully pushed aside the Air Force plan to cut aircraft and people from the Air Guard. We all hailed their e ort. NGAUS counts it as a big fi rst step toward ultimate victory. But the votes had barely been cast before the pushback began. Pentagon leadership said the committee was putting readiness at risk because the money that would have been saved by trimming the Guard will have to come from other programs. And the pushback to the pushback noted that one side wasn’t being fair to the Guard and Reserve. So, like it or not, the Guard has been thrust into the election debate. No worries. We can stand on our own. But look at issues Congress will have to wrestle later this year. The tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush are set to expire. Barring some bipartisan budget agreement, seques-tration could yank hundreds of billions of dollars from defense spending over the next few years. The Medicare/TRICARE physician reim-bursement plan has to be settled sometime at great cost. And we can expect a knock-down, drag-out tussle over raising the debt ceiling. In short, politics will be in full swing this year and funding the Guard won’t be immune to the discussions. Again, we are not an issue for Demo-crats. We are not an issue for Republicans. We are the nation’s community-based force, called to duty by governors and presidents of both parties and sworn to faithfully serve them. We must avoid having our budget pulled into the debate to the point where we are identifi ed as a partisan program beholden to one party or the other. Please let your elected o cials know that whatever direction the political winds blow this year, the Guard is ready to serve. It’s another reason why I’m proud to be a Guardsman. The NGAUS chairman can be contacted at frank.vavala@ngaus.org. 12 | N G

Chairman’s Message

Maj.Gen.Frank

Political Realities<br /> <br /> We must avoid having our budget pulled into the debate to the point where we are identified as a partisan program.<br /> <br /> THIS IS AN election year. Or had you already heard that?<br /> <br /> We have a great one-person, onevote system of nonviolent change for our government, something not every country in the world can claim. And it has been maintained with a lot of spilled blood.<br /> <br /> Oh, the rhetoric can get heated. And you may not always want to take at face value what one candidate says about the other or about what he or she will do once elected.<br /> <br /> But, all in all, it’s a wonderful system.<br /> <br /> Still, an election year can try one’s patience as each side fights for its favorite programs.And with fewer dollars, the fighting just might resemble a no-holds-barred cage match before voters go to the polls.<br /> <br /> Because public money funds the National Guard, we will be part of that election year hubbub, like it or not.<br /> <br /> We certainly want the funding that will keep us America’s most efficient and effective military force. And I think our friends in Congress will see it that way.<br /> <br /> What we don’t want is to become a political bargaining chip, a shiny bauble held out to induce one side to give in to the other side’s wishes.<br /> <br /> Our supporters in Congress are both Republicans and Democrats, but they are first and foremost Americans and patriots, who understand the benefit the nation incurs when its citizen-soldiers and airmen are fully manned, properly trained and adequately equipped.<br /> <br /> Neither party has a monopoly on patriotism.No party wants more than the other to keep America secure and its citizens safe.<br /> <br /> The devil, as they say, is in the details.How will they accomplish this goal of a safe, secure nation?<br /> <br /> And that’s for us to decide as individuals.We vote. Or, at least, we should. That’s why we invited the Democratic and Republican candidates to our conference this year, so members can hear directly how they’ll maintain America’s security.<br /> <br /> I’m writing these words one week after the House Armed Services Committee forcefully pushed aside the Air Force plan to cut aircraft and people from the Air Guard.<br /> <br /> We all hailed their effort. NGAUS counts it as a big first step toward ultimate victory.<br /> <br /> But the votes had barely been cast before the pushback began. Pentagon leadership said the committee was putting readiness at risk because the money that would have been saved by trimming the Guard will have to come from other programs.<br /> <br /> And the pushback to the pushback noted that one side wasn’t being fair to the Guard and Reserve.<br /> <br /> So, like it or not, the Guard has been thrust into the election debate.<br /> <br /> No worries. We can stand on our own.<br /> <br /> But look at issues Congress will have to wrestle later this year.<br /> <br /> The tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush are set to expire. Barring some bipartisan budget agreement, sequestration could yank hundreds of billions of dollars from defense spending over the next few years.<br /> <br /> The Medicare/TRICARE physician reimbursement plan has to be settled sometime at great cost. And we can expect a knock-down, drag-out tussle over raising the debt ceiling.<br /> <br /> In short, politics will be in full swing this year and funding the Guard won’t be immune to the discussions.<br /> <br /> Again, we are not an issue for Democrats.We are not an issue for Republicans.<br /> <br /> We are the nation’s community-based force, called to duty by governors and presidents of both parties and sworn to faithfully serve them.<br /> <br /> We must avoid having our budget pulled into the debate to the point where we are identified as a partisan program beholden to one party or the other.<br /> <br /> Please let your elected officials know that whatever direction the political winds blow this year, the Guard is ready to serve.<br /> <br /> It’s another reason why I’m proud to be a Guardsman.<br /> <br /> The NGAUS chairman can be contacted at frank.vavala@ngaus.org.

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