Tester, Walsh bill puts Presidents National Guard changes under microscope
Senators: Oversight needed to ensure strong Montana Army National Guard
(U.S. SENATE) – Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh are supporting bipartisan legislation that will take a hard look at President Obama’s proposed changes to the U.S. Army and Army National Guard.
Tester and Walsh are co-sponsors of the National Commission on the Future of the Army Act. The bill, introduced by National Guard Caucus co-chairs Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), will create an independent commission to examine the best overall size and force structure in the Army.
The bipartisan bill responds to the President’s proposed budget that, if implemented, would disproportionately impact the Army National Guard. Critics say that while the military must change to keep up with efforts to reduce the nation’s deficit, the changes go too far in reducing the Guard, leaving states like Montana with fewer Guardsmen to protect our country and respond effectively and timely to state emergency disaster needs.
Studies have shown that National Guard Soldiers can perform the same missions as active duty forces for less overall cost. However, the budget proposal calls for cutting the National Guard to levels not seen since 1948 when the Army National Guard was at a total strength of about 285,000.
“Montanans serve our nation at some of the highest rates in the country. With more than a decade of deployment experience, our National Guard has been instrumental in protecting our state and our nation,” Tester said. “We need to fully consider the value of the Army Guard as we adjust to future missions and make smart fiscal decisions. Our bill will do just that.”
“As a 33-year veteran of the Montana National Guard, I know firsthand how important our guard and reserve components are for our state and nation,” Walsh said. “This bill will take a close look into the proposed changes to the Army National Guard as we transition out of conflict. It is essential to the security of this country that we have strong citizen soldiers like those I served alongside in the Montana National Guard.”
Tester and Walsh’s bill is strongly supported by Montana Governor Steve Bullock and Adjutant General Matthew Quinn.
“The Montana National Guard is ready whenever our country, state or communities call,” Bullock said. “Unfortunately, the President’s plan would negatively impact that. I have seen our guardsmen and women on duty both overseas and here at home, so I know how essential their role is to the work of Soldiers and Airmen and women, and to the protection of Montana when disasters strike. I urge Congress to craft a sensible solution that both modernizes our forces but also ensures they have the capacity to protect Montanans when they are called upon to do so.”
A similar panel successfully broke a stalemate between the Air Force and Air National Guard in 2012.