National Guard July 2012 : Page 10

CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE Win-Win COUPLE OF YEARS ago, my good friend and our previous chairman, retired Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting of Kansas, wrote an article for this magazine that many called “radical.” Tod was responding to the declaration of war on a bloated military bureaucracy from then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. Gates noted that 40 cents of every defense dollar is consumed by overhead and set a goal of cutting $100 billion in spending over fi ve years. That fi gure has jumped to $450 billion. My friend’s plan in light of these bud-get cuts was to integrate the Army and Air Force Reserves into the National Guard. As he pointed out then, the idea has been getting bounced around since the Johnson Administration. But Tod thought the time was right. Merging these two great organizations would improve the nation’s community-based force and lower defense spending. In Delaware, we call that a win-win. Well, in the two years since Gates de-clared his war, things have only worsened. We’re now looking at a reduction of an additional $600 billion in defense spend-ing over 10 years if Congress can’t identify spending cuts to help reduce the expanding national debt. That, folks, is a deep cut. It is time for big ideas. And combining the Guard and Reserve is a big idea. And a good one. Radical? The Congressional Budget Offi ce in 1997 estimated that $500 million could be saved annually by combining the Army Guard and Army Reserve. Those savings could only have increased in the 15 years since then. And we want the Air Guard and Air Reserve tossed into the mix, as well, adding to the savings. Radical? This larger force would provide more assets to the governors and increase the presence of citizen-soldiers and airmen around the coun-try. It would be a force even better prepared to A Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala Chairman of the Board NGAUS Merging the Reserves into the Guard would increase the assets available to the governors while reducing the defense budget. respond to any homeland mission. Radical? Read the Constitution. This was the vi-sion of our Founding Fathers. It’s necessary that I point out that this is not an attempt by the Guard to poach the manpower of a fellow reserve component. My respect for the Reserves of this nation is real. Like Guardsmen, their members have left behind families and jobs to answer the call of duty. Like the members of the Guard, too, they have performed admirably and with distinction. I salute them. This idea of integration is simply in the best interest of the nation at this challeng-ing time, a step forward in bringing under control a budget that has been exploding and a national debt that has been called a threat to national security. It is not a one-way street, of course. Our brothers and sisters in the Army and Air Force Reserves—all 279,000 of them—will not only have a four-star advocate at the top of the Pentagon, but a voice on the Joint Chiefs of Staff . In Delaware, we call this a “no-brainer.” To move this idea forward, we must reach the ears of members of Congress who are on the frontline of the battle to restore good sense and restraint to the budget. All of us should step forward and present this case to our elected offi cials. Certainly, there would be many details to work out if this plan was to grow some legs on Capitol Hill. But what have we been doing for the last decade but adjusting and learning? Shoot, what have we been doing since 1636 except adjusting to the times? And the times now call for new ideas and bold plans. Some might call that radical. I call it business as usual for the National Guard. That’s just one reason I’m proud to be a Guardsman. The NGAUS chairman can be contacted at frank.vavala@ngaus.org. 10 | Na tional Guard

Chairman’s Message

Maj. Gen. Frank

Win-Win<br /> <br /> Merging the Reserves into the Guard would increase the assets available to the governors while reducing the defense budget.<br /> <br /> A COUPLE OF YEARS ago, my good friend and our previous chairman, retired Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting of Kansas, wrote an article for this magazine that many called "radical."<br /> <br /> Tod was responding to the declaration of war on a bloated military bureaucracy from then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. Gates noted that 40 cents of every defense dollar is consumed by overhead and set a goal of cutting $100 billion in spending over five years.<br /> <br /> That figure has jumped to $450 billion.<br /> <br /> My friend's plan in light of these budget cuts was to integrate the Army and Air Force Reserves into the National Guard.<br /> <br /> As he pointed out then, the idea has been getting bounced around since the Johnson Administration.<br /> <br /> But Tod thought the time was right. Merging these two great organizations would improve the nation's community based force and lower defense spending.<br /> <br /> In Delaware, we call that a win-win.<br /> <br /> Well, in the two years since Gates declared his war, things have only worsened. We're now looking at a reduction of an additional $600 billion in defense spending over 10 years if Congress can't identify spending cuts to help reduce the expanding national debt.<br /> <br /> That, folks, is a deep cut.<br /> <br /> It is time for big ideas. And combining the Guard and Reserve is a big idea. And a good one.<br /> <br /> Radical?<br /> <br /> The Congressional Budget Office in 1997 estimated that $500 million could be saved annually by combining the Army Guard and Army Reserve.<br /> <br /> Those savings could only have increased in the 15 years since then. And we want the Air Guard and Air Reserve tossed into the mix, as well, adding to the savings.<br /> <br /> Radical?<br /> <br /> This larger force would provide more assets to the governors and increase the presence of citizen-soldiers and airmen around the country. It would be a force even better prepared to respond to any homeland mission.<br /> <br /> Radical?<br /> <br /> Read the Constitution. This was the vision of our Founding Fathers.<br /> <br /> It's necessary that I point out that this is not an attempt by the Guard to poach the manpower of a fellow reserve component. My respect for the Reserves of this nation is real.<br /> <br /> Like Guardsmen, their members have left behind families and jobs to answer the call of duty. Like the members of the Guard, too, they have performed admirably and with distinction.<br /> <br /> I salute them.<br /> <br /> This idea of integration is simply in the best interest of the nation at this challenging time, a step forward in bringing under control a budget that has been exploding and a national debt that has been called a threat to national security.<br /> <br /> It is not a one-way street, of course. Our brothers and sisters in the Army and Air Force Reserves-all 279,000 of them-will not only have a four-star advocate at the top of the Pentagon, but a voice on the Joint Chiefs of Staff .<br /> <br /> In Delaware, we call this a "no-brainer." To move this idea forward, we must reach the ears of members of Congress who are on the frontline of the battle to restore good sense and restraint to the budget. All of us should step forward and present this case to our elected officials.<br /> <br /> Certainly, there would be many details to work out if this plan was to grow some legs on Capitol Hill.<br /> <br /> But what have we been doing for the last decade but adjusting and learning?<br /> <br /> Shoot, what have we been doing since 1636 except adjusting to the times?<br /> <br /> And the times now call for new ideas and bold plans.<br /> <br /> Some might call that radical. I call it business as usual for the National Guard.<br /> <br /> That's just one reason I'm proud to be a Guardsman.<br /> <br /> The NGAUS chairman can be contacted at frank.vavala@ngaus.org.

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