National Guard July 2011 : Page 14

WASHINGTON UPDATE The latest Capitol Hill news from the NGAUS legislative staff Low-Hanging Fruit By Richard M. Green Consolidating the Air Force Reserve and the Air Guard is one obvious wa y to reduce costs without cutting capability . ORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY Rob-ert M. Gates, who retired last month, said in January that the Pentagon needed to cut $178 billion from the defense budget over the next five years. He may be gone, but the fiscal challenges remain. To reduce the budget by that amount will require consolidating redundant headquar-ters, reducing the number of generals and support personnel, and better utilizing avail-able space at airfields. This would work best, of course, if capa-bilities could be protected. How can it be done? Here’s one way: Consolidate the Air Force Reserve Command and the Air National Guard into one efficient and effective force. That such a plan would reduce costs is obvious. Think of all the duplication that would be eliminated. Anyone looking for spending cuts should consider this to be low-hanging fruit. It may seem a radical idea, but if the na-tion is facing “extreme fiscal duress,” as the former secretary described, such proposals have to be considered despite the inherent cultural and organizational difficulties. Certainly, tough decisions are required. To reduce overhead, facilities must be closed and manpower must be cut. But the important point is to reduce costs without reducing capability. That’s what must drive the process. Even so, units that receive more aircraft in the consolidation would have more air crew and maintenance positions. And if overall crew ratios and flying hours were increased to reflect the current operational force model, job loss could be kept at a minimum. An important concern is who would sacrifice the most regarding loss of facilities. That would depend on available ramp space at each facility, their condition, the availability of personnel, location and so on. Those issues, too, should be driven by capability, not by prideful efforts to cling to F property and tradition. I will say, however, that when the dust settles, the units remaining should be part of the Air Guard, which would maximize assets available for domestic missions. This would not be the first choice of Air Force officials concerned that the Air Guard is not always accessible. We take issue with that view. The Air Guard has always answered the call. But to make this proposal more palat-able for the Air Force, the Air Guard must take an “all in” approach and commit to the consolidation of command and control of Guard assets and capabilities at major com-mands, such as Air Mobility Command and Air Combat Command. This would provide both visibility and availability to the active-component com-manders that have the ultimate responsibil-ity to answer the federal call. To some in the Guard, this might seem like a step too far that could cause the loss of control of our Guard missions. But proper protocols, memorandum of understandings and full-time senior Guard leadership of the embedded Guard cell would help ensure relationships and proto-cols were respected. Plus, better working relationships and increased visibility of Air Guard assets and missions might dispel once and for all the perception that the Guard is not accessible. There are plenty of other issues to resolve for this idea to work, of course. But even without the benefit of detailed and expensive number crunching, it is hard to argue that the consolidation of these two great forces would not have the favorable fiscal result our nation needs right now, but with no loss of capability. Contact your senators and representatives and let them know that by strengthening and growing the National Guard, our country can fulfill the vision of our Founding Fathers and build a solid foundation for a strong and afford-able national defense. Do this by phone, fax, letter, personal visit or by using our Write to Congress feature at www.ngaus.org. 14 | Na tional Guard

Washington Update

By Richard M. Green

The latest Capitol Hill news from the NGAUS legislative staff<br /> <br /> Low-Hanging Fruit<br /> <br /> FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY Robert M. Gates, who retired last month, said in January that the Pentagon needed to cut $178 billion from the defense budget over the next five years.<br /> <br /> He may be gone, but the fiscal challenges remain.<br /> <br /> To reduce the budget by that amount will require consolidating redundant headquarters, reducing the number of generals and support personnel, and better utilizing available space at airfields.<br /> <br /> This would work best, of course, if capabilities could be protected.<br /> <br /> How can it be done?<br /> <br /> Here's one way: Consolidate the Air Force Reserve Command and the Air National Guard into one efficient and effective force.<br /> <br /> That such a plan would reduce costs is obvious. Think of all the duplication that would be eliminated.<br /> <br /> Anyone looking for spending cuts should consider this to be low-hanging fruit.<br /> <br /> It may seem a radical idea, but if the nation is facing "extreme fiscal duress," as the former secretary described, such proposals have to be considered despite the inherent cultural and organizational difficulties.<br /> <br /> Certainly, tough decisions are required. To reduce overhead, facilities must be closed and manpower must be cut.<br /> <br /> But the important point is to reduce costs without reducing capability. That's what must drive the process.<br /> <br /> Even so, units that receive more aircraft in the consolidation would have more air crew and maintenance positions. And if overall crew ratios and flying hours were increased to reflect the current operational force model, job loss could be kept at a minimum.<br /> <br /> An important concern is who would sacrifice the most regarding loss of facilities. That would depend on available ramp space at each facility, their condition, the availability of personnel, location and so on.<br /> <br /> Those issues, too, should be driven by capability, not by prideful efforts to cling to property and tradition.<br /> <br /> I will say, however, that when the dust settles, the units remaining should be part of the Air Guard, which would maximize assets available for domestic missions.<br /> <br /> This would not be the first choice of Air Force officials concerned that the Air Guard is not always accessible.<br /> <br /> We take issue with that view. The Air Guard has always answered the call.<br /> <br /> But to make this proposal more palatable for the Air Force, the Air Guard must take an "all in" approach and commit to the consolidation of command and control of Guard assets and capabilities at major commands, such as Air Mobility Command and Air Combat Command.<br /> <br /> This would provide both visibility and availability to the active-component commanders that have the ultimate responsibility to answer the federal call.<br /> <br /> To some in the Guard, this might seem like a step too far that could cause the loss of control of our Guard missions.<br /> <br /> But proper protocols, memorandum of understandings and full-time senior Guard leadership of the embedded Guard cell would help ensure relationships and protocols were respected.<br /> <br /> Plus, better working relationships and increased visibility of Air Guard assets and missions might dispel once and for all the perception that the Guard is not accessible.<br /> <br /> There are plenty of other issues to resolve for this idea to work, of course.<br /> <br /> But even without the benefit of detailed and expensive number crunching, it is hard to argue that the consolidation of these two great forces would not have the favorable fiscal result our nation needs right now, but with no loss of capability.<br /> <br /> Contact your senators and representatives and let them know that by strengthening and growing the National Guard, our country can fulfill the vision of our Founding Fathers and build a solid foundation for a strong and affordable national defense. Do this by phone, fax, letter, personal visit or by using our Write to Congress feature at www.ngaus.org.<br /> <br /> Empowerment Legislation Attracts Co-sponsors, Attention in Washington<br /> <br /> National Guard members had plenty of reason to be encouraged last month as the legislation commonly called "Guard Empowerment" continued to attract Senate co-sponsors.<br /> <br /> If successful, the National Guard Empowerment and State-National Defense Integration Act of 2011 would, among other things, put the National Guard Bureau chief at the same table with the Joint Chiefs of Staff where decisions are made regarding the training, organization and equipping of America's military forces.<br /> <br /> Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the current Guard Bureau chief, attends meetings of the Joint Chiefs and can offer his perspective in some discussions, but he does not have a vote in the final decision. That would change with the passage of this act.<br /> <br /> By mid-June, 27 senators had agreed to co-sponsor the bill. It was added as an amendment to the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.<br /> <br /> The House version of the 2012 NDAA passed in May and included the provision of the legislation that would elevate the Guard Bureau's status.<br /> <br /> NGAUS is working hard to make this happen. The current arrangement includes chiefs of services that have no real domestic role when it comes to natural disasters.<br /> <br /> The Defense Department opposes the change. That was made clear in a May letter from Elizabeth King, the assistant defense secretary for legislative affairs, to Sen. Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.<br /> <br /> Putting the position on the level of service chiefs, King wrote, would "create the unhelpful impression that the National Guard is a separate Military Service."<br /> <br /> News reports on the confirmation hearing for CIA Director Leon Panetta for the position of defense secretary suggested he opposes the move, as well.<br /> <br /> Abortion Rights in Military Hospitals Sought for Victims of Rape, Incest<br /> <br /> Two lawmakers from New York–one in the House and one in the Senate–introduced legislation last month in their respective chambers that would allow female military members who become pregnant because of rape or incest to use their government health care for an abortion in a military hospital.<br /> <br /> Rep. Louise Slaughter and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats, introduced the MARCH for Military Women Act. MARCH stands for Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health.<br /> <br /> Current law prevents women in the military from using military facilities or their government health care for an abortion if they become pregnant from rape or incest. It also prevents women from using private money to pay for an abortion at a military hospital.<br /> <br /> The legislation put forward last month would overturn that entire ban.<br /> <br /> In May, Rep. Susan Davis, D-Calif., tried to interject an amendment similar to Slaughter and Gillibrand's bills into the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, but it died in the House Rules Committee without coming to debate.<br /> <br /> Other bills proposing the same change to the law have been advanced in previous years, but they have been defeated by those who believe no government funds should be used for an abortion under any circumstances.<br /> <br /> Under current law, however, women who work in the federal government or are serving in a federal prison are allowed access to government-funded abortions if they are the victims of rape or incest or if the pregnancy is life-threatening.<br /> <br /> Hiring Heroes Act of 2011 Takes Aim At Unemployment Rate for Veterans<br /> <br /> A member of the House of Representatives has introduced the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, which is a companion bill to one in the Senate sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.<br /> <br /> Like the Senate version, the House bill, which was introduced in late May by Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr., D-Ga., would, among other things, require troops separating from the service to participate in a transition assistance program and receive an individualized assessment of jobs for which they are qualified.<br /> <br /> Bishop was reacting to the news that nearly one in four veterans between the ages of 20 and 24 is jobless.<br /> <br /> His bill quickly attracted more than 125 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.<br /> <br /> Consolidating the Air Force Reserve and the Air Guard is one obvious way to reduce costs without cutting capability.<br /> <br /> The NBG chief attends meetings of the Joint Chiefs and can offer his view to some discussions, but he does not have a vote in final decisions. <br />

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