A Reduction of Military Forcesby Representative Tammy Duckworth
Posted on 2014-01-16
DUCKWORTH. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. Speaker, 10 years ago, my National Guard aviation battalion was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom. We performed missions ranging from forward refueling point operations to air assaults all across the battlefield in Iraq. We were so effective that the multinational forces headquarters assigned us to help Active Duty aviation units to fly their missions as well as our own. Yet when we first reported to coordinate these missions, our Active Duty counterparts welcomed us literally by dismissively saying, Well, here comes the JV team.
Despite this less than friendly welcome, my Guard unit seamlessly integrated and carried out not only our own, but also their Active flight missions as well. In the process, we gained trust and mutual appreciation and respect.
We have come so far as a Nation and as a military. For 12 years, our Guard and Reserve units have fought side-by-side with our Active Duty counterparts in combat zones all over the world. This Nation spent precious blood, sweat, and treasure to build a fully interchangeable, cost-effective operational reserve that has been key to our successes in defending our Nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic. To squander this investment and divest our training and equipping of the reserve forces is a huge disservice to our taxpayers and to our national security.
The Guardsman is ``twice the citizen,'' relied on heavily by our Governors and generals alike. They respond whether the duty station is a mountain pass in Afghanistan or the flooding banks of the Mississippi River.
The Guardsman is one-third the cost of an Active Duty soldier or airman. The Guardsman is the least expensive asset our military has and a critical and complementary component of our overall force structure.
We are a better Nation with a better military than to dismantle the sacrifices made on the battlefield with false claims of National Guard and Reserves' lack of capability. For 22 years I have served in the Reserves and in the Guard, the last 8 years of which were without pay.
I certainly have devoted much more than 39 days a year to serving my Nation as a military pilot; and so have my fellow Guard troops, whose sacrifices and capabilities are often underrepresented and under appreciated.
I urge my colleagues to join me in helping preserve the operational capability of the Guard in this year's National Defense Authorization Act.