Governors Take Dispute over Air National Guard Cuts to Congress
The National Governors Association (NGA) rejected last week’s compromise offer from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to restore some of the proposed cuts to the Air National Guard (ANG) in the fiscal 2013 budget request, and now they are urging lawmakers to preempt all of the reductions in funding, manpower and aircraft that the Air Force is calling for.
“Governors, through our Adjutants General and the Council of Governors, have worked diligently with the Air Force and the U.S. Department of Defense to rectify the surprising and disproportionate cuts facing the ANG as part of the U.S. Air Force’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget request,” wrote NGA Chair Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R), NGA Vice Chair Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) and Council of Governors Co-chairs Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (D) in letters sent Friday to the House and Senate Armed Services and Appropriations Committees.
“Unfortunately those negotiations have not produced an agreement; it is therefore critical that Congress address the deficiencies in the Air Force’s budget request,” they added.
Last week, Panetta offered to restore 24 C-130s and 2,200 Guard positions from the Air Force’s proposal, which calls for eliminating a total of 5,100 Air Guardsmen. The governors praised the Pentagon’s willingness to restore some of the airlift capacity that would have been eliminated under the budget proposal but criticized the Air Force for failing to fully compromise regarding changes to personnel and fighter aircraft.
“Unfortunately, the Air Force was not willing to move much beyond their budget proposal. They never fully responded to states’ concerns about manpower reductions and refused to make any adjustments to their transfer of fighter aircraft units from the ANG to the active service,” the governors wrote.
In a separate letter to Panetta, Gregoire and Branstad made the case that the Air National Guard provides equivalent capabilities at a fraction of the cost of active-duty forces and criticized the FY 2013 budget request for stripping states of manpower and equipment.
“Unless precluded by Congress, the Air Force will still sweep 4 percent of total Air Force fighter aircraft from the ANG to active duty units. The result will be substantially higher manpower costs with no increase in the number of aircraft or combat capacity,” the two governors stated.