WASHINGTON (Feb. 24, 2014) ― The National Guard Association of the United States today released the following statement by retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett, the NGAUS president:
“We are disappointed, but hardly surprised, that today’s Pentagon budget preview ignores the advice of Congress and the nation’s governors that the National Guard should be more of a solution to the fiscal challenges facing our nation’s military.
“And we are angered by continuing comments, such as those in Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s prepared text, that National Guard units ‘complement’ active forces.
“For the last 12-plus years, Army and Air National Guard units have been nothing less than integral to the Army and Air Force accomplishing their missions around the globe. Service and Pentagon leaders have said as much countless times. Almost all have said they can’t tell the difference between active and Guard personnel.
“Unfortunately, active military leaders all too often change their tune when budgets get tight, even when Guard cost-effectiveness can be the solution.
“Secretary Hagel did admit that Guard units are less expensive to maintain; however, he was also quick to add that they cost about the same when deployed. This is essentially true. The Guard is largely a pay-as-you-use-them force.
“But on most days only a fraction of active-component personnel are actually in the fight or deployed in a quick-reaction capacity. Most of the rest—amounting to hundreds of thousands of personnel—are in reserve, just like the Guard. One force the nation pays for every single day—one it does not.
“Today’s preview also included Air Force plans to divest the A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter, the undisputed close-air-support aircraft of choice of U.S. ground troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Advances in precision-guided munitions do enable other aircraft to perform the mission, but not nearly as well. I trust the Pentagon will heed the intent of Congress and not move forward on this plan until next year at the earliest.
“Again, we are disappointed by today’s budget preview, but we are not surprised. Nor are we defeated.”
Reporters, Editors & Producers: Retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett is available for interviews or to appear as a subject matter expert on defense issues related to the National Guard. Contact John Goheen at 202-789-0031 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an interview or appearance.
About NGAUS: The association includes nearly 45,000 current or former Guard officers. It was created in 1878 to provide unified National Guard representation in Washington. In their first productive meeting after Reconstruction, militia officers from the North and South formed the association with the goal of obtaining better equipment and training by petitioning Congress for more resources. Today, 136 years later, NGAUS has the same mission.