National Guard May 2011 : Page 12

CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE A Seat at the Table S Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala Chairman of the Board NGAUS A member of the Guard needs to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. OMETIMES AN ISSUE appears on Capitol Hill that demands a little “foot stomping.” In my humble opinion, we have such a bill now that should get all of us in the National Guard on our feet and jumping N up and down to make it law. u I’m talking about the Guardians of Free-d dom Act. This legislation, which I men-t tioned last month, would give the National Guard Bureau chief the same status as the G chiefs of staff of the four services. c It would give our chief a seat at the table w where the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) meet a and allow him to vote on decisions that af-f fect the Guard. Guard members have endured long deployments. And just like our active-com-ponent colleagues, they have spilled blood in foreign lands. Many have given their lives. Our units deserve a voice at the level where final resource decisions are made. Yet the Defense Department still oper-ates with a pre-9/11 structure that is not designed to maximize the strategic value of the Guard. The current design is active-component centric. The joint chiefs are all active-component representatives of their service. There is no homeland defense represen-tation on the JCS. All of the members are valiant servants of their respective services, but they are focused on wartime missions and have no familiarity with homeland defense or Title 32 operations. The NGB chief would bring this dimen-sion to the table. Now that homeland security is as important to the nation as any mission within DoD, a member of the Guard needs to serve on the JCS. Recently, our new senator here in my home state of Delaware, Sen. Chris Coons, announced his support for the Guardians of Freedom Act. He said, “To me, this comes down to the level of respect this nation shows its citizen-soldiers. I’m co-sponsoring the Guardians of Freedom Act of 2011 to honor the brave Delawareans who have stood side-by-side with the active-duty and reserve members of the armed forces. They have shed the same blood in the same mud and the Guard’s position in the Pentagon should reflect that.” He truly gets it! We have other supporters as well. Vice President Joe Biden is one. When he was a candidate for the vice presidency, he told the NGAUS conference in Baltimore in 2008, “It’s time for a change. Change begins with giving the Guard a seat at the table, that table in the Pentagon where the joint chiefs sit.” The White House says President Barack Obama, who introduced similar legislation during his time in the Senate, will sign any bill elevating the chief’s status. Elsewhere in this magazine, former Guard Bureau chiefs tell why they think their successors deserve this new level of influence. These are men who have been there and know how important it is. All of you reading this know these argu-ments. We provide more than 30 percent of the Air Force’s critical flying capability, more than 40 percent of the Army’s combat capability, and nearly all of the U.S. military’s domestic-response capacity. We do all of this for less than 10 percent of the defense budget, yet we have no voice in final resource decisions in the Pentagon. The half million men and women of the Guard have earned a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. More importantly, they need that critical voice to continue doing all that they do for our nation. The Guardians of Freedom Act was introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va., in the Senate, and by Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., in the House. There already are several co-sponsors. I urge NGAUS members to contact your legislators and ask them to support this important bill. As always, I’m proud to be a Guards-man. The NGAUS chairman can be contacted at frank.vavala@ngaus.org. 12 | Na tional Guard

Chairman's Message

A Seat at the Table<br /> <br /> SOMETIMES AN ISSUE appears on Capitol Hill that demands a little "foot stomping."<br /> <br /> In my humble opinion, we have such bill now that should get all of us in the National Guard on our feet and jumping up and down to make it law.<br /> <br /> I'm talking about the Guardians of Freedom Act. This legislation, which I mentioned last month, would give the National Guard Bureau chief the same status as the chiefs of staff of the four services.<br /> <br /> It would give our chief a seat at the table where the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) meet and allow him to vote on decisions that affect the Guard.<br /> <br /> Guard members have endured long deployments. And just like our active-component colleagues, they have spilled blood in foreign lands. Many have given their lives. Our units deserve a voice at the level where final resource decisions are made.<br /> <br /> Yet the Defense Department still operates with a pre-9/11 structure that is not designed to maximize the strategic value of the Guard. The current design is active-component centric.<br /> <br /> The joint chiefs are all active-component representatives of their service.<br /> <br /> There is no homeland defense representation on the JCS. All of the members are valiant servants of their respective services, but they are focused on wartime missions and have no familiarity with homeland defense or Title 32 operations. The NGB chief would bring this dimension to the table.<br /> <br /> Now that homeland security is as important to the nation as any mission within DoD, a member of the Guard needs to serve on the JCS.<br /> <br /> Recently, our new senator here in my home state of Delaware, Sen. Chris Coons, announced his support for the Guardians of Freedom Act.<br /> <br /> He said, "To me, this comes down to the level of respect this nation shows its citizen-soldiers. I'm co-sponsoring the Guardians of Freedom Act of 2011 to honor the brave Delawareans who have stood side-by-side with the active-duty and reserve members of the armed forces. They have shed the same blood in the same mud and the Guard's position in the Pentagon should reflect that."<br /> <br /> He truly gets it!<br /> We have other supporters as well. Vice President Joe Biden is one. When he was a candidate for the vice presidency, he told the NGAUS conference in Baltimore in 2008, "It's time for a change. Change begins with giving the Guard a seat at the table, that table in the Pentagon where the joint chiefs sit."<br /> <br /> The White House says President Barack Obama, who introduced similar legislation during his time in the Senate, will sign any bill elevating the chief's status.<br /> <br /> Elsewhere in this magazine, former Guard Bureau chiefs tell why they think their successors deserve this new level of influence. These are men who have been there and know how important it is.<br /> <br /> All of you reading this know these arguments. We provide more than 30 percent of the Air Force's critical flying capability, more than 40 percent of the Army's combat capability, and nearly all of the U.S. military's domestic-response capacity.<br /> <br /> We do all of this for less than 10 percent of the defense budget, yet we have no voice in final resource decisions in the Pentagon. The half million men and women of the Guard have earned a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. More importantly, they need that critical voice to continue doing all that they do for our nation.<br /> <br /> The Guardians of Freedom Act was introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va., in the Senate, and by Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., in the House. There already are several co-sponsors.<br /> <br /> I urge NGAUS members to contact your legislators and ask them to support this important bill.<br /> <br /> As always, I'm proud to be a Guardsman.<br /> <br /> The NGAUS chairman can be contacted at frank.vavala@ngaus.org.<br /> <br /> A member of the Guard needs to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Previous Page  Next Page


Publication List
Using a screen reader? Click Here