National Guard September 2011 : Page 12

CAPITAL VIEW A Seat at the Table By Rep. Candice Miller Congress has a golden opportunit y to fi nall y do the right thing for the Guard. HE NATIONAL GUARD has a long and storied 375-year history of fi ght-ing our nation’s wars, supporting their fellow citizens in national disasters, and defending the homeland. As we approach the anniversary of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, I am constantly reminded of the service and sacrifi ce that our citizen-soldiers and airmen have made over the last 10 years—many of whom lost their lives in defense of our country in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than ever, the Guard has been an integral part of our nation’s forward-deployed combat power. Without these citizen-soldiers serving alongside their active-duty counterparts, it is unlikely we would have been able to sustain a robust troop presence in both Iraq and Afghani-stan for so long. The bottom line is that the United States can no longer maintain extensive and lengthy military engagements overseas without the contributions of the Guard. Our nation has asked much from the men and women of the Guard and we owe them our gratitude. But more than grati-tude, we owe them the very best training and equipment we can provide. We also owe them an equal voice in the halls of the Pentagon, and we owe their leaders a position of equality in order to advocate eff ectively on their behalf. In recent years, we have made some progress in placing the Guard on equal footing with its active-duty counterparts. For one, we made the chief of the Na-tional Guard Bureau a four-star general and designated the position to be the princi-pal advisor to the secretary of defense on Guard issues. While this was a welcome development that I was proud to support, I believe that it does not go far enough to recognize the unique challenges of the Guard. Nor does it give the NGB chief what I believe is needed—full parity as a sitting and voting T member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff . Each of the members from the four armed services on the Joint Chiefs of Staff represent the needs of their respective services. But the needs of the Army and Air Guard are unique and only the Guard Bureau chief can speak to those needs ef-fectively and accurately. Today, more than 1,200 Guard soldiers and airmen assist the U.S. Border Patrol in securing our Southwest border. This vital mission is just one of the many roles the Guard plays in securing the homeland, duty that is distinct from Defense Depart-ment missions. Earlier this year, I, along with my Democratic colleague, Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, off ered an amendment to the fi scal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that for the fi rst time would grant the Guard a full seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff to bring the much needed perspective of the Army and Air Guard to the table. I am pleased to report that the amend-ment passed on voice vote, but it still requires action by the Senate before it becomes law. A companion bill in the Senate, the National Guard Empowerment and State-National Defense Integration Act, has been introduced and is gaining momentum with 46 senators now offi cially signed on as sponsors. Congress has a golden oppor-tunity to fi nally do the right thing for the 470,000 men and women of the National Guard who serve our nation with skill and honor. It is well past time to give the National Guard an independent advocate on the Joint Chiefs of Staff who can fully address the unique challenges that face the men and women of the Guard. I hope my Senate colleagues will heed the common sense call for parity and fairness and give the NGB chief a place on the Joint Chiefs. The author represents Michigan’s 10th district. She is a Republican U.S. representative and a member of the Homeland Security Committee. 12 | Na tional Guard

Capital View

Rep. Candice Miller

A Seat at the Table<br /> <br /> THE NATIONAL GUARD has a long and storied 375-year history of fighting our nation's wars, supporting their fellow citizens in national disasters, and defending the homeland.<br /> <br /> As we approach the anniversary of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, I am constantly reminded of the service and sacrifice that our citizen-soldiers and airmen have made over the last 10 years–many of whom lost their lives in defense of our country in Iraq and Afghanistan.<br /> <br /> More than ever, the Guard has been an integral part of our nation's forward-deployed combat power. Without these citizen-soldiers serving alongside their active-duty counterparts, it is unlikely we would have been able to sustain a robust troop presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan for so long.<br /> <br /> The bottom line is that the United States can no longer maintain extensive and lengthy military engagements overseas without the contributions of the Guard.<br /> <br /> Our nation has asked much from the men and women of the Guard and we owe them our gratitude. But more than gratitude, we owe them the very best training and equipment we can provide.<br /> <br /> We also owe them an equal voice in the halls of the Pentagon, and we owe their leaders a position of equality in order to advocate effectively on their behalf.<br /> <br /> In recent years, we have made some progress in placing the Guard on equal footing with its active-duty counterparts. For one, we made the chief of the National Guard Bureau a four-star general and designated the position to be the principal advisor to the secretary of defense on Guard issues.<br /> <br /> While this was a welcome development that I was proud to support, I believe that it does not go far enough to recognize the unique challenges of the Guard. Nor does it give the NGB chief what I believe is needed–full parity as a sitting and voting member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.<br /> <br /> Each of the members from the four armed services on the Joint Chiefs of Staff represent the needs of their respective services. But the needs of the Army and Air Guard are unique and only the Guard Bureau chief can speak to those needs effectively and accurately.<br /> <br /> Today, more than 1,200 Guard soldiers and airmen assist the U.S. Border Patrol in securing our Southwest border. This vital mission is just one of the many roles the Guard plays in securing the homeland, duty that is distinct from Defense Department missions.<br /> <br /> Earlier this year, I, along with my Democratic colleague, Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, offered an amendment to the fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that for the first time would grant the Guard a full seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff to bring the much needed perspective of the Army and Air Guard to the table.<br /> <br /> I am pleased to report that the amendment passed on voice vote, but it still requires action by the Senate before it becomes law.<br /> <br /> A companion bill in the Senate, the National Guard Empowerment and State- National Defense Integration Act, has been introduced and is gaining momentum with 46 senators now officially signed on as sponsors. Congress has a golden opportunity to finally do the right thing for the 470,000 men and women of the National Guard who serve our nation with skill and honor.<br /> <br /> It is well past time to give the National Guard an independent advocate on the Joint Chiefs of Staff who can fully address the unique challenges that face the men and women of the Guard. I hope my Senate colleagues will heed the common sense call for parity and fairness and give the NGB chief a place on the Joint Chiefs.<br /> <br /> The author represents Michigan's 10th district. She is a Republican U.S. representative and a member of the Homeland Security Committee.<br /> <br /> Congress has a golden opportunity to finally do the right thing for the Guard.

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