Guard Chief: Sequestration Would Have ‘Devastating’ Effects
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill
National Guard Bureau
ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 13, 2013 Sequestration and a yearlong continuing resolution would significantly hinder the National Guard’s ability to protect and defend the homeland, the chief of the National Guard Bureau told the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday.
Sequestration is a mechanism built into budget law that will trigger deep, across-the-board spending cuts unless Congress comes up with an alternative by March 1. A continuing resolution is temporary funding that keeps the government running in lieu of a congressionally approved budget. The current continuing resolution runs through March 27.
“Sequestration will be devastating to the Department of Defense and the National Guard,” Army Gen. Frank J. Grass said, joining other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and senior defense officials before the committee.
“Although National Guard warfighters will continue to receive support, the ability to provide ready forces and equipment to respond to disasters in support of our nation’s governors and to meet our federal obligations will be negatively impacted,” Grass said in a statement delivered to the committee.
The general outlined four priority areas directly related to readiness where the National Guard would be severely affected: personnel, equipment maintenance, facility maintenance and training.
Under sequestration, Grass said:
-- About 115,000 traditional Guard members would not get annual medical or dental exams. “Within one year, readiness will be degraded to pre-war levels,” he said.
-- The National Guard’s civilian workforce would face a potential furlough. “Furloughs of these essential personnel will further reduce the readiness of our people, equipment, facilities and training,” Grass said, because military technicians and civilian employees support maintenance and training.
-- The Army would cancel or reduce depot-level equipment maintenance, including the reset of materiel returning from deployment. “National Guard units will return to their states with equipment in a low state of readiness, and it may not be available to the unit to support state authorities in response to tornados, floods or wildfires -- or a complex catastrophe,” the general said.
-- The Air National Guard would be forced to “park” aircraft, degrading readiness.
-- Military construction projects would be cut.
-- Some facility security, firefighting, groundskeeping, custodial, snow removal and maintenance contracts might have to be cancelled, affecting jobs in communities and costing even more money in penalties for early termination.
-- Equipment shortages would degrade training opportunities.
-- Training cuts by the Army and the Air Force would affect both the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard. “Under sequestration, most flying units [in the Air Guard] will be below acceptable readiness standards by the end of this fiscal year,” Grass said.
“Your support is needed more than ever today to mitigate the impacts of sequestration,” Grass told senators. “Without congressional action, these across-the-board cuts will impact the National Guard’s ability to meet steady state demands and act as a strategic hedge for unforeseen world events.”