A Reduction of Military Forcesby Representative Charles W. Dent
Posted on 2014-01-16
DENT. Thank you, Representative Perry. I really appreciate this
opportunity to talk about the National Guard.
I first want to start by thanking Congressman Perry for his service in the Pennsylvania National Guard for some time. He is very committed to our country and committed to the Guard. I commend him for putting this on.
I also want to commend his chief of staff, who is seated right next to him, Colonel Lauren Muglia, who is also an active guardswoman; and I am very proud of her service at Fort Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, at the National Guard center up there, which is located in my congressional district--a very important asset to this country's homeland security and emergency preparedness, as well as any other missions that would be called upon them.
But I have a few things I just wanted to say about the Guard very, very quickly.
The Army's plan for the National Guard includes, frankly, drastic plans to slash the force structure, end strength and aviation assets, and will put the Guard on the back shelf as a strategic reserve. I am very concerned about this. And I know many of my colleagues are as well.
Congress has made a very significant investment in the Guard over the past 12-or-so years to train and equip the Guard as an operational reserve. At a time when the Pentagon must dig very deep for savings in their programs and agencies, the Guard remains a viable investment.
I say this as a member of the Appropriations Committee. We have to make a lot of very hard choices with respect to how we allocate our very limited resources. The Defense Department is coming under a great deal of stress.
But I want you to consider this: the most recent report of the Reserve Forces Policy Board, or RFPB, concluded that a National Guard member costs about one-third of their Active component counterpart. This would translate into nearly $2.6 billion in savings for every 10,000 positions shifted from a full-time to a part-time status.
What's more, the Army National Guard provides 32 percent of the Army's total personnel and 40 percent of its operating force, while only consuming 11 percent of the Army's budget. That represents a value to this country and, frankly, to the taxpayer.
I mean no disrespect to anybody, but I think we have to understand the real value of this National Guard to the taxpayer.
The Air National Guard provides 19 percent of the Air Force's total personnel and 30 to 40 percent of its overall fighter, tanker, and airlift capacity, at 6 percent of the Air Force budget.
Many of those Air National Guardsmen and pilots are very experienced and have many, many hours of service. So I think we should acknowledge how experienced those folks are.
In conclusion, I just wanted to say that not only does the Guard provide this operational asset to our overall national security and defense structure; but, just as important, it provides an emergency preparedness and homeland security function that they have to help us deal with all the time. In my State, it is usually floods and weather emergencies. The Guard plays an absolutely critical role to help us during those times.
So they have that operational component. They obviously contribute significantly in the wars, and we have seen this, too. By the way, if you have been to Afghanistan or Iraq--and I know some of our colleagues here have served there and paid very heavy prices--frankly, we have seen how well integrated our Guard and Reserve units are with regular Army and regular Air Force units. So I am very proud of that service.
Again, that dual mission--they can help us fight wars and they are certainly a critical component to our over homeland security and emergency preparedness strategy in the country.
With that, I thank Congressman Perry for his leadership on this issue, and I really appreciate that he put this Special Order together.