APRIL 30, 2015, WASHINGTON – The chief of the National Guard Bureau sounded a warning about the impact of sequestration on the National Guard in testimony to a Senate subcommittee here Wednesday.
“I am concerned that, under sequestration, the nation will have its smallest National Guard since the end of the Korean War, despite the American population roughly doubling since that time,” Army Gen. Frank Grass told the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Defense.
“This same force is needed to respond to the needs of the governors at a time the Army and the Air Force is drawing down and will rely more heavily on an operational reserve to accomplish combatant command missions,” Grass said.
Sequestration refers to across-the-board cuts to federal spending triggered by the Budget Control Act, with half the cuts coming from military spending and half from all other programs.
“Continued, modest investments in training, manning and equipping will maintain the readiness of your National Guard as the combat reserve of the Army and Air Force,” Grass said.
The general’s remarks came at a hearing on the posture of the National Guard and reserves. Senior defense leaders, including combatant commanders and service chiefs, annually testify about their commands and areas of responsibility.
“While we must deal realistically with budget limits and a volatile global landscape, we must always ensure that we are ready to do the three things we do extraordinarily well: fight America’s wars, respond in the homeland and build partnerships,” Grass said in written testimony to the committee.
“We stand as a hedge during this time of uncertainty,” he said.
About 770,000 individual overseas mobilizations of Guard members have been completed since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the Army National Guard and Air National Guard have met every deployment requirement assigned to them, Grass said.
The National Guard has a unique, dual role, serving the governors of the states and territories when not in federal status.
“The National Guard is positioned in nearly 3,000 communities to provide an immediate response to local, state and national emergencies, as well as ongoing domestic missions,” Grass said.
The Guard also builds partnerships at the local, state, federal and international level. One example is the National Guard State Partnership Program, which pairs the Guard in individual states and territories and the District of Columbia with other nations.
“The SPP … has paid huge dividends in establishing long-term security and personal relationships,” Grass said. “These enduring partnerships stand as some of the strongest security partnerships in the world.
“For a small cost to our taxpayers, the SPP delivers strategic benefits by providing training, sharing military and homeland defense expertise and encouraging partner nations to participate in coalition operations.”
People are the foundation of the National Guard, Grass said – units, families, communities and employers.
“The National Guard is woven into the fabric of our nation through communities everywhere, ready and willing to transform from civilians to Guardsmen on a moment’s notice,” Grass said.