National Guard October 2011 : Page 16

WASHINGTON UPDATE The latest Capitol Hill news from the NGAUS legislative staff Serious Questions By Richard M. Green Don’t hold y our breath waiting for the active folks to break with their history when it comes to budget cuts. S CONGRESS WRAPS up the defense authorization and appropriations bills for fiscal 2012, our focus at NGAUS naturally shifts to preparing for the next de-fense budget, which is normally delivered to Congress during the first week of February. Resolutions were adopted at the 133rd General Conference and Exhibition in Mil-waukee, and soon our issue-oriented task forces will establish the priorities for our fiscal 2013 legislative agenda. Given the dialogue over the out-of-control debt crisis that consumed Congress throughout the summer, one can only spec-ulate as to what level of cuts will be required of the Defense Department and, specifically, the National Guard. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has warned of “dire consequences” if the Penta-gon is forced to cut more than $400 billion over the next decade. Anything more, he said, “would damage our national defense.” Our current fiscal crisis, however, may trump that position when the dust settles. The Guard community is rightfully concerned. History tells us that despite everything the Guard has accomplished over the past 10 years, when it comes to finding programs to sacrifice to the budget knife, Pentagon planners will almost certainly look to the Guard. This approach, of course, makes no sense. The Guard is clearly the best trained and best equipped it has ever been, and there isn’t one example in which the Guard wasn’t accessible. We have answered the call. Every. Single. Time. And the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, the Government Ac-countability Office and a wide variety of think tanks all agree that the Guard is the most reasonable and cost-effective alterna-tive to resolving fiscal challenges in the Defense Department. It’s simply no longer debatable: Guard units, with their far lower personnel and in-A frastructure costs, are simply far less expen-sive to maintain. And then there’s the value of Guard experience and civilian skills. So, why does all of this evidence seem to go right over the heads of top Pentagon offi-cials? Or are they just ignoring the potential benefits of maximizing combat capability in the Guard because they believe their first responsibility is to take care of active-com-ponent units first? This leads me to ask: Are we really a Total Force? Or is the term Total Force just a conve-nient term to use when our active breth-ren conclude that they don’t have enough people or equipment to deal with the crisis at hand? In such a case, the Guard quickly becomes an equal partner in their eyes. They can’t tell the difference between the actives and the Guard, they tell us. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the active folks to break with their history when it comes to dealing with significant budget cuts. It doesn’t seem to matter how well we perform or what numbers we post with respect to cost savings. So, as always, the Guard’s best way for-ward will be to ensure our elected members of Congress have all the facts and figures they need to serve as honest brokers in the defense budget process. The information is readily available and makes the right points from every aspect of the debate. All we need to do is ensure that every member of Congress has this information and takes it forward when the time is right. We can and will succeed. But it will take the concerted efforts of each and every one of us to ensure the message is communi-cated loud and clear. Contact your elected representatives and let them know that by strengthening and growing today’s trained and ready National Guard, our country will have a strong and affordable national defense. You can do this in any manner you choose—phone, fax, letter, personal visit or by using our Write to Congress feature at www.ngaus.org. 16 | Na tional Guard

Washington Update

The latest Capitol Hill news from the NGAUS legislative staff<br /> <br /> Don't hold your breath waiting for the active folks to break with their history when it comes to budget cuts.<br /> <br /> Serious Questions<br /> <br /> By Richard M. Green<br /> <br /> AS CONGRESS WRAPS up the defense authorization and appropriations bills for fiscal 2012, our focus at NGAUS naturally shifts to preparing for the next defense budget, which is normally delivered to Congress during the first week of February.<br /> <br /> Resolutions were adopted at the 133rd General Conference and Exhibition in Milwaukee, and soon our issue-oriented task forces will establish the priorities for our fiscal 2013 legislative agenda.<br /> <br /> Given the dialogue over the out-of-control debt crisis that consumed Congress throughout the summer, one can only speculate as to what level of cuts will be required of the Defense Department and, specifically, the National Guard.<br /> <br /> Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has warned of "dire consequences" if the Pentagon is forced to cut more than $400 billion over the next decade. Anything more, he said, "would damage our national defense."<br /> <br /> Our current fiscal crisis, however, may trump that position when the dust settles.<br /> <br /> The Guard community is rightfully concerned. History tells us that despite everything the Guard has accomplished over the past 10 years, when it comes to finding programs to sacrifice to the budget knife, Pentagon planners will almost certainly look to the Guard.<br /> <br /> This approach, of course, makes no sense. The Guard is clearly the best trained and best equipped it has ever been, and there isn't one example in which the Guard wasn't accessible.<br /> <br /> We have answered the call. Every. Single. Time.<br /> <br /> And the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, the Government Accountability Office and a wide variety of think tanks all agree that the Guard is the most reasonable and cost-effective alternative to resolving fiscal challenges in the Defense Department.<br /> <br /> It's simply no longer debatable: Guard units, with their far lower personnel and infrastructure costs, are simply far less expensive to maintain. And then there's the value of Guard experience and civilian skills.<br /> <br /> So, why does all of this evidence seem to go right over the heads of top Pentagon officials? Or are they just ignoring the potential benefits of maximizing combat capability in the Guard because they believe their first responsibility is to take care of active-component units first?<br /> <br /> This leads me to ask: Are we really a Total Force?<br /> <br /> Or is the term Total Force just a convenient term to use when our active brethren conclude that they don't have enough people or equipment to deal with the crisis at hand? In such a case, the Guard quickly becomes an equal partner in their eyes.<br /> <br /> They can't tell the difference between the actives and the Guard, they tell us.<br /> <br /> Don't hold your breath waiting for the active folks to break with their history when it comes to dealing with significant budget cuts. It doesn't seem to matter how well we perform or what numbers we post with respect to cost savings.<br /> <br /> So, as always, the Guard's best way forward will be to ensure our elected members of Congress have all the facts and figures they need to serve as honest brokers in the defense budget process.<br /> <br /> The information is readily available and makes the right points from every aspect of the debate. All we need to do is ensure that every member of Congress has this information and takes it forward when the time is right.<br /> <br /> We can and will succeed. But it will take the concerted efforts of each and every one of us to ensure the message is communicated loud and clear.<br /> <br /> Contact your elected representatives and let them know that by strengthening and growing today's trained and ready National Guard, our country will have a strong and affordable national defense.<br /> <br /> You can do this in any manner you choose–phone, fax, letter, personal visit or by using our Write to Congress feature at www.ngaus.org.<br /> <br /> More than half of the Senate sponsors legislation that would add the NGB chief to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.<br /> <br /> Legislation Aims to Increase Number Of Veteran-owned Franchises<br /> <br /> Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., and Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., each introduced versions of the same bill in their respective chambers last month.<br /> <br /> They are sponsors of the Help Veterans Own Franchises Act that would provide a veteran with a tax credit worth 25 percent of the franchise fees associated with opening up a new franchise. The credit is capped at $100,000.<br /> <br /> Both men say the benefit is another way to honor the sacrifices made by men and women who serve in uniform during a time of war.<br /> <br /> "This important legislation will help ensure veterans who fought for their country do not have to struggle to find a job when their service is complete," said Casey in a statement released by his office.<br /> <br /> Schock notes in a press release that a Small Business Administration report found that veterans are at least 45 percent more likely to be self-employed business owners than the general population.<br /> <br /> "This is the type of signal Congress can send to show that we want to put job creation in the hands of those who know how to do it best," Schock said.<br /> <br /> Majority of Senate Now Sponsors National Guard Empowerment Bill<br /> <br /> More than half of the Senate now sponsors legislation that would add the chief of the National Guard Bureau to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.<br /> <br /> Fifty-eight Senators had put their name on the National Guard Empowerment and State-National Defense Integration Act of 2011 as of Sept. 22.<br /> <br /> The bill was introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS. C. Among its several provisions is one that would give the NGB chief a seat at the table where decisions are made. The House has already passed a similar provision.<br /> <br /> "Fifty-eight and counting," said retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr., the NGAUS president. "And we also know that a few senators plan to vote for the legislation, but, for one reason or another, they prefer not to sign on as co-sponsors."<br /> <br /> NGAUS spent much of last month pushing the legislation hard on Capitol Hill to line up support among senators.<br /> <br /> The association also took the unusual step of buying a full-page ad Sept. 12 in Politico, a Washington, D.C., publication that covers Congress and the entire federal government. The ad acknowledged the Senate co-sponsors and pointed out the bill's importance to the nation's defense.<br /> <br /> Six additional senators agreed to co-sponsor the bill in the days that followed.<br /> <br /> To keep up the latest development on this legislation, visit www.ngaus.org/empowerment2011.<br /> <br /> Jobs Legislation to Benefit Veterans Provides Retraining, Placement<br /> <br /> On the same day President Barack Obama told a joint session of Congress to quickly pass his jobs legislation last month, the House Veterans Affairs Committee approved a $1.5 billion bill to address the unemployment problem for veterans.<br /> <br /> The bill, H.R. 2433, was introduced by Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., the committee chairman, and will now go to the full House for a vote.<br /> <br /> Called the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act, it would provide retraining programs for veterans aged 35 and older who have been without work for at least 26 weeks, and also address professional licensing, job placement and transition assistance.<br /> <br /> According to Stars and Stripes, the jobless rate among veterans from the era of Iraq and Afghanistan was at 9.8 percent in August, the first time this year that it was below 10 percent.<br /> <br /> The bill had its opponents on the committee, passing 17 to 5. The opponents were mostly Democrats who do not like how the bill is funded. The money would come from reduced pensions for some low-income veterans in nursing homes and the postponement of fee reductions for home loans for veterans.<br /> <br /> Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., told Army Times that using home-loan fees to pay for job aid is "strange, hypocritical and even tragic." He also noted that retraining people does not provide immediate work.<br /> <br /> Miller said he was open to alternative funding, but added, "One million veterans out of work is not acceptable." <br />

Previous Page  Next Page


Publication List
Using a screen reader? Click Here