November 21, 2011
The Issue: National Guard Empowerment
Immediate Action Required: Contact your Senators and ask them to reject Sen. Jim Webb and Sen. Jack Reed’s NDAA amendments (SA 1201 & SA 1321) to Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Empowerment amendment (SA 1072)
Following the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) hearing on Nov. 10, it was clear, especially to those who were in attendance, that the proponents of creating a permanent seat on the JCS for the Chief of the National Guard Bureau (CNGB) had clearly made the better case for passing this historic legislation, when, within days, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) added their names to the impressive list of co-sponsors.
Today, however, with 70 co-sponsors and a clear mandate that “the National Guard’s time has come” for full representation on this critically important forum of our top military leaders, opponents of the legislation have initiated two amendments with the intent to either stall, defeat or dilute the initiative.
Sen. Jim Webb’s amendment (SA 1201) to Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Empowerment amendment (SA 1072) to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) eliminates the text of Leahy’s amendment in its entirety and replaces all eight provisions with an “independent study,” conducted at the direction and under the supervision of the secretary of defense on the advisability of adding the CNGB to the JCS. At last count, the secretary was clearly on the side of supporting the joint chiefs’ opposition to placing the CNGB onto the JCS. How a study of this nature could be classified as “independent” is beyond comprehension. If allowed to go forward, the Webb amendment would gut the Empowerment initiative, and amount to nothing more than a biased effort to kill or at least delay the legislation.
Sen. Jack Reed’s amendment (SA 1321) would create an unnecessary disparity between the CNGB, who must receive the recommendation of his/her governor, and the Vice Chief of the National Guard Bureau (VCNGB), who, in Reed’s view, need not. The [resident and the secretary of defense would not nominate, nor would the Senate confirm, a VCNGB who does not have the full recommendation of his/her state governor. This section of the Reed amendment would reduce from three to two the requirements to become VCNGB, thereby opening the position to a broader pool of less-qualified candidates.
Further, Reed’s attempt to limit the CNGB’s advice to strictly non-federalized operations, and eliminate conforming language in the law that would establish the role and duties of the CNGB as that of any other member of the JCS, amounts to a poison pill for Guard Empowerment. Instead of empowering the Guard, the changes will disempower and weaken the Guard by codifying in law the Guard’s present second class status as a “by-invitation-only” member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Contact your senators immediately and urge them to support a strong and ready National Guard by voting against SA 1201 and SA 1321, and voting for Leahy’s Empowerment legislation (SA 1072) that would create a permanent seat on the JCS for the CNGB. Providing a permanent seat on the JCS will help ensure that the chief of the National Guard Bureau has a seat at the table to represent the unique nonfederalized perspectives of the National Guard.
MG (Ret.) Gus Hargett
TAKE THE FOLLOWING ACTION:
By using the “Write to Congress” feature on the NGAUS Web site at www.ngaus.org/writetocongress, you can IMMEDIATELY e-mail your elected representatives. A sample letter is included in our “Write to Congress” feature. You can e-mail the pre-written message or edit the sample letter as you desire. This is the quickest and most effective method of expressing your views to Congress. Also, contact your friends and family and urge them to “Write to Congress” as well. For more in-depth information and background visit our web site at www.ngaus.org. Please direct any questions concerning this issue to Pete Duffy, NGAUS Deputy Legislative Director via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.