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National Defense > Blog > Posts > Sequestration Threatens National Guard
Sequestration Threatens National Guard
By Yasmin Tadjdeh

Severe cuts to the military that may come as a result of sequestration next year may adversely impact the National Guard, and by extension, domestic security, former Pentagon leaders said Aug. 15.

“The only thing worse than the flawed legislative strategy of sequestration would be its actual implementation,” said Paul McHale, former assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense. “It is in my view, a breach of trust to put the Department of Defense on automatic pilot. Across the board cuts in DoD funding would severely jeopardize the capabilities of our active force, send a message of defense vulnerabilities to our adversaries and irresponsibly weaken the National Guard in its mission to protect the U.S. homeland.”

Speaking at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, McHale, along with retired Army Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, former deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command, agreed that the cuts would devastate the already bare-boned National Guard.

Sequestration, which aims to cut $500 billion in the federal budget over the next 10 years, could result in the loss of of tens of thousands of jobs within the National Guard, they said.

Blum likened the potential cuts to a man looking to lose a few pounds — instead of doing it in a healthy way, he just lobs off his own head to get the number down. In the same way, he said, the Pentagon and Defense Department will be forced to slash funds irresponsibly should sequestration come in January.

“This is not a boogeyman that does not exist,” said Blum. “This is a reality we are facing.”

McHale said making hard choices is the “antithesis” of sequestration, and that the Pentagon would be forced to make knee-jerk decisions that could adversely impact the future of the National Guard.

The National Guard can function in three different ways: in a state function where its is under state law, controlled by a governor and funded by the state; under federal status, where it reports to the president and is funded by the Defense Department; and under Title 32, where the funding comes from the Defense Department, but it is under the control of governors.

For states, 
Title 32 is by far the preferred method, giving them control of the Guard yet sending the tab to Washington. But if sequestration comes to pass, Title 32 funding could be severely cut.

McHale and Blum both agreed that this would hurt the National Guard in its ability to help during crises. National Guard members are not only called away to help internationally, but also are pivotal in maintaining infrastructure and helping during domestic disasters. Some units even help man fire stations.

During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as much as 70 percent of the military response came from the National Guard, said McHale.

Even if sequestration does spare personnel, it will severely cut into training, the operations and maintenance of equipment and result in an under-equipped National Guard, the two agreed.

McHale called sequestration an “abdication of leadership and ultimately democracy.”

“The National Guard now plays a vitality important role in terms of our domestic security,” said McHale, and cuts to their already tight budget will only hurt Americans.

“When you call out the Guard, you do in fact call out America,” said Blum.

Photo Credit: National Guard


Re: Sequestration Threatens National Guard

With a United States Congress stuck on stupid, it becomes all the more important for each responsible American citizen to insure individual security by application of the provisions of the 2d Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. It's not a perfect solution, as We the People long ago ceded our money and liberties to tyrants in Washington, District of Corruption, thereby limiting the ability of The People to secure the blessings for which our Founding Fathers fought against phenomenal odds - and won!

Cogito, ergo armatus sum.
Drawer 22 at 8/19/2012 11:14 AM

Re: Sequestration Threatens National Guard

It should be obvious that the NG will be hit hard.

The only two places of major financial consequence, are the active duty and the NG.  Reserves are minimal comparitively speaking.  Even if you make the cuts 50/50 (which is proabably optimistic on behalf of the Guard), that would be a significant hit on the Guard.

The active duty have programs and other non-personnel related entities that they can lay the cuts on (e.g., base infrastructure), versus the Guard mostly personnel and equipment cost structure.

Really no fun for anyone.  We were at a buffet table, and now we're now back to "al la carte".
Prior Service at 8/19/2012 12:03 PM

Re: Sequestration Threatens National Guard

I served in the USMC 1962-1965 (CPL), USAR Special Forces 1965-1970 (SSG), USAR 1970-1998 (LTC), with many overseas tours both with the USAR and the Active Army. I also served in most ALL the Military Intelligence Officer specialties and some of the Civilian Intelligence Officer duties. I learned military force and task force structure from my duties with the HQ DCSINT at the Pentagon 1991-1997 as a Threat Integration Staff Officer (TISO) and my assignment to HQ DCSOPS-Strategic War Plans at the Pentagon as a Staff Officer. My last field assignment was in 1996 as the JCS Team Chief of the National Intelligence Support Team (NIST) for Operation Joint Endeavor. As a result of these many experiences and countless others, I wish to pass on these lessons learned:

1. All tactical/operational units are built from the individual warrior and those bonds with his fellow warriors. The cooking pot for creating these bonds should start in as small a unit as the USMC “Fire Team”, squad, of Special Forces A-Team upwards to in some cases the Battalion/Regimental level. The mission and READINESS of the unit (as it must merge with the Task Force Structure and the Operations Order) may suggest the best place to start with this team building.  Although our officer “leadership” focuses on the Company level it really blooms at the Battalion/Regimental Level. The LTC/O-6 is where the “leadership personality emerges” on that ever elusive career goal for reaching the “stars”. In the enlisted ranks it starts at the Fire Team Leader/ CPL and goes upward through the NCO grades. At the start of their careers, most enlisted aspire to be First Sergeants or Sergeant-Majors but settle at the end (as in the middle Officer grades) just to survive until retirement at the highest grade earned. Many personnel do not make it to retirement either by non-selection, RIFs, injury due to combat of accident, just bad luck, or as in the case of too many in the current military, KIA.
2. My CUZ Colonel David HACKWORTH seemed to capture the essentials of the warrior spirit needed at the Fire Team and combat small unit operations. These bonded small teams of warriors have been the backbone of our successful military operations from the pre-Revolutionary days through to the present day operations. I believe that the much publicized “Surge” in Iraq was an “About Face” to reorganize our forces to save the on-going operation that demanded it be forged into these much more effective small unit force projection models. It also allowed the top brass to save face by disguising the reorganization/reconstitution during combat with a force “surge” to charge into the operation with a larger task force. The fact is that before the “surge” the task force structure of both our committed forces in Theater and the force structure models used for both training and combat force design were still back in the WWII grand scale of large unit combat operations pioneered by Rommel, Patton, and others. These old habits were only reinforced by the exceptional situation involved with the “Desert Storm” operation which allowed the US Army to fight much as Field Marshall Rommel did in North Africa during the early years of WWII. That is not to say that these operations were not successful, but rather that we always seem to prepare for the last war for our force projection and combat operations and only are saved by the independence, flexibility, and resilience of our individual warriors that are formed into these tight bands of brothers.
3. If we reorganize our “Reserve Components” (that includes both the National Guard and the Ready Reserve) we should reflect on how we got to the current force structure of a “separate but equal” model applied to levels of mobilization desperation. I was once in the warrior side of the Reserve Components of the USAR Special Forces. The concept back then was that BOTH the National Guard’s and the USAR’s combat units would be mobilized to supplement the Active Forces combat forces as needed. Back in 1969, I asked GEN S. L. A. Marshall (he sat on the original founding committee back in the early 1950s that formed the Special Forces), “If my A-Team was mobilized, what would happen to my men?”. He stated that “they would probably be scattered into Active Duty SF units as replacements because they were not viewed (by the Active Army) as fully mission capable as an A-Team”.  I committed to him that the lack of language training and no specific area of operation if mobilized was a good indication that was true. It seemed that the reorganization (down-sizing) of the post VN and then the post Cold War Active Force Structure were focused on providing the Active Army the highest strength level of “Combat” forces while moving the vital logistical tail and specialty units to the USAR. They essentially kept combat personnel on active duty and moved the less glamorous (to them) “ASH and TRASH”** units to the USAR. If this cannibalization of Reserve Component units was then and still is the silent agenda for the Active Army, so much for continuing small unit team building within the Reserve Components. They also made the NG a supplemental combat force to augment the Active Army WITHOUT the political strain of “mobilization” and the resulting public scrutiny caused by massive family separations and civilian job trauma.
4. While assigned to HQ DCSOPS in the mid-1990s, the Active Duty view of the National Guard was “if they want to keep those National Guard Armories, let the states pay for them out of their own budgets”. Over the last decade plus, those National Guard Armories have been “consolidated” into remote equipment motor pools and pulled from the small towns where they were the focus of both National Pride and Community safety/events. The Active Army just didn’t get it then or now, they should consolidate equipment for ease of maintenance but disperse the personnel to reduce the alluringly HIGH target profile. The Soviet Union did this same thing with massive “Truck Farms” which allowed personnel to be moved more freely across greater distances. We also do this with our “Prepositioned” equipment. If selected small unit equipment can be positioned in the small towns along with most of the personnel, it can only help reduce the response time in a local crisis situation.  I can think of specific example in such cases as bad weather, fires, or other local emergencies where immediate dispatch of road vehicles “beats the storm”..

5. Those National Guard Armories are the best insurance for fostering a dedicated set of small combat units that have worked as a TEAM and may even be neighbors and friends off-duty too.  Nothing can surpass that kind of bonding as in a “BAND OF BROTHERS”. The smaller communities are also more invested in the Military (BOTH Active and RESERVE Components) when the physical symbol of our National Resolve is displayed in that old National Guard Armory with the many friends and neighbors serving within and outside its walls. This concept of human bonding holds much more significance than just a single cold statue of a minuteman or a barbed-wire protected remote motor pool. The warm glow of neighbors and friends towards those of their own ranks who are assigned locally to the National Guard and Reserve Centers cannot be lost in a heart-less “bean-counting” reorganization focused only on yet more centralization of our Reserve Component and Active Forces. Their consolidation and concentration methodology also flies against the basic dispersal of forces concept so that we can in a worst case scenario of an attack by weapons of mass destruction, ensure that we suffer HEAVY first strike losses.

As my old Grand-Mom Hackworth used to say:


Retired LTC USAR
350 Academy Street
Tahlequah, OK 74464
(918) 457-0482 cell

*GEN S. L. A. Marshall sat on the original founding committee back in the early 1950s that formed the Special Forces.
**This term was used on the combat maps from the Civil War to WWII “ASH/TRAS” to denote the Non-Tactical support units/troops. It was a circled area well behind the front lines that the Army Surgical Hospital (ASH) and the Division/Army TRAINS (TRAS: originally cover wagon supply train) were located.

LTC S. L. "HACK" HACKWORTH at 8/19/2012 2:04 PM

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