Archive for the ‘National Guard’ Category

National Guard / states’ rights

October 29, 2006

Last December, the Army and the Air Force decided to try to make precipitous cuts to the National Guard. The Army sought to cut the Army Guard by almost 17,000 soldiers, while the Air Force drove for reductions of almost 14,000 airmen. These personnel cuts were made without consultation with the National Guard Bureau, the States Adjutants General, and the nation’s governors.

While the National Guard constitutes a high percentage of our total number of ground troops, it has just a sliver of the overall percentage of three- and four-star General officers. And, while the Air National Guard constitutes a high percentage of the Air Force’s mobility assets and a similarly high percent of its strike assets, the Air Guard has a negligible share of the high-ranking positions, where important decisions are made.

In fact, we would get nothing done in Congress if we were to wait for every commission, study group, and research panel to finish its work.

It is easy to see the attempts of the President and his advisors to avoid the debacle involving the National Guard after Hurricane Katrina, when Governor Blanco of Louisiana would not give control of the National Guard over to President and the federal chain of command. Governor Blanco rightfully insisted that she be closely consulted and remain largely in control of the military forces operating in the State during that emergency. This infuriated the White House, and now they are looking for some automatic triggers — natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or a disease epidemic — to avoid having to consult with the governors.

We cannot recognize the diverse ways that the Guard supports the Country, because the Department of Defense does not like it — simply does not like it.

Because of this rubberstamp Congress, these provisions of this conference report add up to the worst of all worlds. We fail the National Guard, which expects great things from us as much as we expect great things from them. And we fail our Constitution, neglecting the rights of the States, when we make it easier for the President to declare martial law and trample on local and state sovereignty.