Tester to Hagel: Keep National Guard strong
Senator pushes Defense Secretary to protect the ‘professional, expert’ force
(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester is sending a clear message to America’s Defense Secretary: keep the Army National Guard strong.
Tester is leading a large, bipartisan group of Senators calling on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to maintain a robust and effective Army National Guard as the Defense Department reduces costs due to budget cuts.
Tester says that Guardsmen repeatedly prove their value on the battlefield and are needed to support future overseas missions, as well as to respond to emergency events in the United States like floods and wildfires.
“This generation of men and women in the Army National Guard has proven effective, committed, and capable,” Tester told Hagel. “We hope that any proposal will be forged through a process that includes the Army National Guard as a full partner and similarly considers all of the Nation’s needs – both foreign and domestic.”
“On behalf of all Montana Army and Air National Guard men and women, I applaud Senator Tester for his strong support of our National Guard,” said Major General Matt Quinn, Adjutant General for Montana. “Every day Montana National Guard Soldiers and Airmen stand ready to assist our citizens in times of natural disasters or other emergencies, while remaining prepared for federal duty. The Montana National Guard has proven, time and time again, its value to Montana and America. Senator Tester’s support recognizes that value.”
Tester reminded Hagel that Congress last year rejected a proposal that called for steep cuts to the Air National Guard, and that the Air Force’s Active and Reserve Components are now working together on a new proposal.
Tester’s letter was prompted by reports that Hagel is considering various options that would affect the Army National Guard’s future force structure.
There are approximately 3,800 Guardsmen in Montana, including 2,800 in the Army National Guard.
Tester recently supported the two-year budget plan that prevented the Defense Department from facing a $20 billion cut this year that would have put military readiness, training and equipment at risk.
Tester’s letter to Defense Secretary Hagel is signed by nearly 60 other Senators, including fellow Montana Senator Max Baucus.