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Governors call on DoD to protect Guard from 'disproportionate' cuts

Jan. 15, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
A Utah National Guard KC-135 tanker is in position to refuel an F-16. The National Governors Association is urging the Defense Department to avoid 'disproportionate' cuts to the Air National Guard.
A Utah National Guard KC-135 tanker is in position to refuel an F-16. The National Governors Association is urging the Defense Department to avoid 'disproportionate' cuts to the Air National Guard. (Master Sgt. Ben Bloker / Air Force)
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A Utah National Guard KC-135 tanker is in position to refuel an F-16. The National Governors Association is urging the Defense Department to avoid 'disproportionate' cuts to the Air National Guard. (Master Sgt. Ben Bloker / Air Force)

The nation’s governors are getting in front of the fiscal 2015 budget rollout and already calling to protect the Air National Guard from “disproportionate and damaging” cuts.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, chairwoman of the National Governors Association, said Wednesday that the Defense Department needs to safeguard the Guard from dangerous cuts to “protect its capabilities and quality.” She spoke in the association’s annual State of the States address in Washington, D.C.

The Air National Guard has been under the spotlight since the fiscal 2013 budget debate, in which the administration called for large cuts to the Guard that Congress called “disproportionate.”

Congress still needs to go out of its way to protect the Guard, the governors said.

“We call on Congress and the administration to recognize the value of maintaining an active and ready National Guard,” Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, vice chairman of the NGA, said. “Reductions in personnel and equipment are inevitable as we transition from war to peace, but they should not adversely affect states nor come at the expense of lost capabilities.”

The future of the Air National Guard has been the focus of two influential groups drawn together from the fiscal 2013 battles:

■ The Air Force’s own Total Force Task Force has submitted recommendations to Air Force leaders on how to best use both the active and reserve components in future force structure decisions.

■ The National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, created by the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, is set to release its report on the future needs of the service next month. The commission has gathered input during several hearings on the needs of the Guard, including the recommendation to merge the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve.

Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said last week that as long as there are budget restrictions, the Guard is going to take reductions. While his component should not be cut too far, cuts to the active force can hurt the Guard in terms of training infrastructure and schools.

“Everything we do is tied to our two services,” Grass said.

By statute, the Obama administration’s fiscal 2015 budget proposal is due by the first Monday of February, but it is expected to be late.

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