NGAUS News Summary & Weekly Committee Schedule-3/12/2012
THE SENATE IS IN SESSION, AND THE HOUSE IS IN RECESS THIS WEEK.
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U.S. Air Force, Air Guard Lock Horns Over Cuts
Source:: Defense News, http://bit.ly/yApqSg
By: Kate Brannen and Marcus Weisgerber
March 12, 2012
As the U.S. Air Force goes head-to-head with the Air National Guard and governors from
around the country, all eyes are watching to see how the Air Force fares in its effort
to shed reserve capabilities as it deeply cuts spending.
So far, the Air Force has taken heat not only over its plan to cut Air Guard force
structure and aircraft, but also the tactics it’s using to make its case on Capitol
Hill. For example, a briefing by an Ohio Air Guard captain being circulated inside the
Pentagon and on Capitol Hill makes the case that the Air Force inflated the life-cycle
costs of the transport program as one of the justifications to cancel the effort,
which was intended for the Air National Guard.
Guard sources said the move is the latest misstep the Air Force has made in crafting
and now defending its budget plan, which cuts 3,900 active-duty,
5,100 Guard and 900 reserve airmen. Air Force leadership, in a statement, said the
Guard and active forces worked together on the plan. This is all happening as the
country’s adjutants general – the leaders of the Air and Army Guard within their
states – were scheduled to meet in Washington over the weekend for the annual spring
meeting of the board of directors of the National Guard Association of the United
The board meeting is a chance for the adjutants general to reinforce their opposition
to the Air Force’s plan and vow to do everything they can, working with Congress, to
reverse it, said Army Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, the adjutant general for Delaware and
chairman of the NGAUS board of directors, in a March 9 interview.
The Army is watching this fight closely. It wants to see if the Air Force will get
away with drastically reducing its Guard structure, one Army source said. A lot is at
stake in this first round of fighting, and the lessons that emerge from it will shape
where the Army decides to cut its force structure, the source said. “I think the Army
is looking out there to see how the Air Force fares before they take a run at us,”
Vavala said. The Air Force’s plans have drawn the ire of almost all of the country’s
governors, who asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in a Feb. 29 letter, to
reconsider the proposed Air Guard cuts.
Opposition is so strong that the Council of Governors – an organization that includes
governors from across the country, as well as DoD leaders – has taken the unusual step
of developing an alternative proposal for how the Air Force can make its cuts. The
price tag for the proposal, which remains under tight wraps, is being worked out by
the Air National Guard staff and Headquarters Air Force staff, Air National Guard head
Lt. Gen. Harry “Bud”
Wyatt said on Capitol Hill March 7.
The Council of Governors, which includes nine state leaders, was created to give the
states access and a voice with the Defense Department, Vavala said.
Obviously, the Air Force did not include them in their deliberations, he said.
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