National Guard November 2011 : Page 14

WASHINGTON UPDATE The latest Capitol Hill news from the NGAUS legislative staff Mission Possible By Richard M. Green The Pentagon seems to be keeping its blinders firmly in place as budgeteers there stick to the same old Cold War method of doing business. HOSE OF US old enough to remem-ber the television series Mission Impos-sible starring Peter Graves will never forget the opening scene. The tape would roll and the recorded voice would begin, “Good morning, Mr. Phelps. Your mission, should you choose to accept it . . .” Then the complex and dangerous mis-sion awaiting Phelps and his team would be explained before the tape dissolved in a small plume of smoke. Well, my fellow National Guard men and women, we have a mission before us. But I don’t believe it is impossible. We must convince every member of Con-gress that the National Guard provides the most cost-effective way to preserve combat and disaster response capabilities during this period of financial crisis. Guard leaders have done their best to make that case in the Pentagon, with white papers, “push cards,” testimony at hearings and on and on. And while some members of Congress may be listening, from what we hear, it’s business as usual with the Pentagon still looking to the Guard as a convenient “bill payer” for cuts that could range from $350 billion to a $1 trillion over the next 10 years. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, agree that cuts beyond $350 billion would seriously impact our national security. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., a member of McKeon’s committee, quickly got out in front with a letter to the Joint Select Com-mittee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the super committee, pointing out that the Defense Department could realize savings of $90 billion or more over 10 years by trans-ferring 100,000 active-component members to the Guard and Reserves. To those of us in the Guard, ideas such as Coffman’s make a lot of sense. But the Pentagon seems to be keeping its blinders firmly in place as budgeteers there stick to T the same old Cold War method of doing business. The financial situation our country is facing requires a fresh new look, one that is actually open to creative new ways of doing business and takes full advantage of the Total Force that has more than proved itself over the past decade. Maybe it’s time for the top Pentagon and Guard leaders to get out of the box they are in and attend one of those touchy-feely bonding sessions where people expose their innermost thoughts. Maybe some leftover bad vibe lingering from prior experiences is preventing active-component leadership from dealing honestly with the Guard. Shouldn’t they know that the Guard today is as professional, capable and experi-enced as it has ever been? That it is in many ways an equal to the active component? If we are to resolve this fiscal dilemma that threatens our national security with common sense and good judgment, noth-ing less than an epiphany on the part of our active-component leadership is required. Otherwise, perhaps we cannot succeed as a Total Force. But, as I said, we have our mission and it is clearly possible, especially with the deter-mined efforts of NGAUS members. And just like on the old TV show, I am confident we will accomplish our mission. We must ensure that our elected officials clearly understand that the cost-effective combat and disaster-response capabilities found in today’s Guard represent the low-hanging fruit required to maintain a strong and ready Total Force. Contact your senators and representa-tives and let them know that by strengthen-ing and growing today’s trained and ready National Guard, our country will have a national defense that is not only strong, but affordable. 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. Accept the mission and do it today. 14 | Na tional Guard

Washington Update

Richard M. Green

Mission Possible<br /> <br /> THOSE OF US old enough to remember the television series Mission Impossible starring Peter Graves will never forget the opening scene. The tape would roll and the recorded voice would begin, “Good morning, Mr. Phelps. Your mission, should you choose to accept it . . .”<br /> <br /> Then the complex and dangerous mission awaiting Phelps and his team would be explained before the tape dissolved in a small plume of smoke.<br /> <br /> Well, my fellow National Guard men and women, we have a mission before us. But I don’t believe it is impossible.<br /> <br /> We must convince every member of Congress that the National Guard provides the most cost-effective way to preserve combat and disaster response capabilities during this period of financial crisis.<br /> <br /> Guard leaders have done their best to make that case in the Pentagon, with white papers, “push cards,” testimony at hearings and on and on.<br /> <br /> And while some members of Congress may be listening, from what we hear, it’s business as usual with the Pentagon still looking to the Guard as a convenient “bill payer” for cuts that could range from $350 billion to a $1 trillion over the next 10 years.<br /> <br /> Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, agree that cuts beyond $350 billion would seriously impact our national security.<br /> <br /> Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., a member of McKeon’s committee, quickly got out in front with a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the super committee, pointing out that the Defense Department could realize savings of $90 billion or more over 10 years by transferring 100,000 active-component members to the Guard and Reserves.<br /> <br /> To those of us in the Guard, ideas such as Coffman’s make a lot of sense. But the Pentagon seems to be keeping its blinders firmly in place as budgeteers there stick to The same old Cold War method of doing business.<br /> <br /> The financial situation our country is facing requires a fresh new look, one that is actually open to creative new ways of doing business and takes full advantage of the Total Force that has more than proved itself over the past decade.<br /> <br /> Maybe it’s time for the top Pentagon and Guard leaders to get out of the box they are in and attend one of those touchy-feely bonding sessions where people expose their innermost thoughts. Maybe some leftover bad vibe lingering from prior experiences is preventing active-component leadership from dealing honestly with the Guard.<br /> <br /> Shouldn’t they know that the Guard today is as professional, capable and experienced as it has ever been? That it is in many ways an equal to the active component?<br /> <br /> If we are to resolve this fiscal dilemma that threatens our national security with common sense and good judgment, nothing less than an epiphany on the part of our active-component leadership is required.<br /> <br /> Otherwise, perhaps we cannot succeed as a Total Force.<br /> <br /> But, as I said, we have our mission and it is clearly possible, especially with the determined efforts of NGAUS members. And just like on the old TV show, I am confident we will accomplish our mission.<br /> <br /> We must ensure that our elected officials clearly understand that the cost-effective combat and disaster-response capabilities found in today’s Guard represent the lowhanging fruit required to maintain a strong and ready Total Force.<br /> <br /> Contact your senators and representatives and let them know that by strengthening and growing today’s trained and ready National Guard, our country will have a national defense that is not only strong, but affordable.<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. Accept the mission and do it today.<br /> <br /> Numbers in Senate No Guarantee Empowerment Bill Will Become Law<br /> <br /> As this magazine is going to press the legislation to put the National Guard Bureau chief on the Joint Chiefs of Staff has attracted 65 senators as sponsors or co-sponsors.<br /> <br /> That may seem like enough for a slamdunk win on S. 1025, the Senate legislation often called the Empowerment bill.<br /> <br /> But math in the Senate only works when votes are taken. There remains a possibility that the bill NGAUS has been pushing for so hard may not make it to a vote. That’s the hurdle members must overcome now to have that voice the Guard deserves at the top of the Pentagon.<br /> <br /> Unfortunately, all of the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee are not behind the National Guard Empowerment and State-National Defense Integration Act of 2011. And those that don’t support it have the power to prevent a vote on the fiscal 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, of which<br /> S. 1025 would be a floor amendment.<br /> <br /> Also, the Senate calendar is very crowded.The president’s jobs bill, extensions for FAA funding and many spending bills are awaiting action. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said last month that a sweeping defense bill is on hold until a dispute with the White House over terrorist custody issues is resolved.<br /> <br /> Although a National Defense Authorization Act has passed Congress every year for 49 years, it almost didn’t make it last year.So nothing should be taken for granted.<br /> <br /> Senators: Guardsman’s Actions Worth Medal of Honor from World War I<br /> <br /> Two senators from Oregon have asked Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta to review new evidence and recommend the Medal of Honor be awarded to a black National Guardsman who served with the French army during World War I.<br /> <br /> Sgt. Henry Lincoln Johnson, who served with the New York Guard’s 369th Infantry, was badly wounded May 15, 1918, while successfully fighting off a force of German soldiers that numbered more than 20, saving a colleague in the process. The unit was known as the Harlem Hellfighters.<br /> <br /> Sen. Ron Wyden and Sen. Jeff Merkley, both Democrats, wrote the letter last month asking the defense secretary to examine the Material and expedite the review process.The senators noted that it took until 1996 for Johnson, who died in 1929, to receive a Purple Heart and even longer to be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.<br /> <br /> New evidence includes a memorandum acknowledging Johnson’s actions from Gen.<br /> John J. Pershing, the commander of the American soldiers in France; an eyewitness description from the soldier Johnson saved during his heroic actions, Needham Roberts; and a letter written by one of Johnson’s commanders, Col. William Hayward, which confirms Johnson’s actions.<br /> <br /> The two Oregon senators learned of Johnson’s heroics from Nick Fish, a city commissioner in Portland, Ore., whose grandfather, Hamilton Fish, served as an officer in Johnson’s unit.<br /> <br /> Veterans’ Education Benefits Possible Targets for Defense Budget Savings<br /> <br /> Cutting education assistance for military members and veterans, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill, has been mentioned as a possible way to trim the budget, according to CQ.com, an online news publication.<br /> <br /> Four leaders of the Senate and House veterans’ affairs committees broached the idea in a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, called the super committee, charged with cutting $1.2 trillion in government spending over 10 years.<br /> <br /> The story, which was put online Oct. 17, says the letter was signed by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Sen. Richard M. Burr, RN.C. , the chair and ranking Republican of the Senate committee, and Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., the chair and ranking Democrat on the House committee.<br /> <br /> The letter also includes possible cuts throughout the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The letter makes no mention of specific cuts, but lists reductions made in veteran benefits since 1980 when budgets had to be cut.<br /> <br /> They did include, however, the post-9/11 GI Bill in a list of potential targets. According to CQ.com, senior aides say the Congressional Budget Office projects college tuition to increase at a rate of 6 percent annually.<br /> <br /> If the VA paid only 3 percent for tuition hikes, it would save $1 billion to $7 billion over 10 years, the lawmakers claim.

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