Tester pushes to preserve the Montana National Guard’s ability to respond to emergencies

Senator receives assurance from Air National Guard Chief that C-130s will be modified by 2020 deadline

(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester today questioned the Chief of the National Guard about the uncertainty of transferring a portion of National Guard technicians out the state’s chain of command.

During a Senate Defense Appropriations hearing, Tester pushed National Guard Chief General Frank Grass on the upcoming transfer of National Guard military technicians to federal civilian employees. Tester told Grass he is concerned this transfer could remove these technicians from the state’s chain of command and weaken the State of Montana’s response to emergency disasters.

“It is critical that Montana’s leaders have every tool they need to respond to emergency disasters,” Tester said. “The Governor and Adjutant General need this flexibility to keep folks safe, and to keep the Montana’s National Guard’s missions strong. I will continue to work with Governor Bullock, General Quinn, and the National Guard Bureau to ensure Congress is fully supporting our military readiness.”

The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act requires the transfer of up to 119 of Montana’s 510 full-time National Guard military technicians to civilian employees-removing them from their dual, state and federal, mission status.

Tester believes removing these technicians from their dual mission status could impact the Governor’s ability to swiftly deploy them during a flood, wildfire, or other state emergency.

General Grass promised to work closely with Tester prior to implementation of this policy to better analyze the impact that transferring these technicians will have on the National Guard’s mission.

Tester also received assurance from the Acting Director of the Air National Guard, Major General Brian Neal, that upgrades to the Montana Air National Guard’s C-130 fleet will be completed in time to meet the Federal Aviation Administration’s 2020 deadline.

If the fleet is not upgraded by the 2020 deadline to meet national and international rules, the aircraft could be grounded.

Tester was able to secure key provisions in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act to modernize Montana’s C-130 fleet.