Sequestration and a year-long continuing resolution would significantly hinder the National Guard’s ability to protect and defend the homeland, Gen. Frank Grass told the Senate Armed Services Committee, Feb. 12, 2013.
“Sequestration will be devastating to the Department of Defense and the National Guard,” the chief of the National Guard Bureau said, joining other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and senior defense officials before the committee.
“Although National Guard warfighters will continue to receive support, the ability to provide ready forces and equipment to respond to disasters in support of our nation’s governors and to meet our federal obligations will be negatively impacted,” Grass said in a statement delivered to the committee.
The general outlined four priority areas directly related to readiness where the National Guard would be severely impacted: Personnel, equipment maintenance, facility maintenance and training.
Under sequestration, Grass said:
- About 115,000 traditional Guard members would not get annual medical or dental exams. “Within one year, readiness will be degraded to pre-war levels,” Grass said.
- The National Guard’s civilian workforce would face a potential furlough. “Furloughs of these essential personnel will further reduce the readiness of our people, equipment, facilities and training,” he said. That’s because military technicians and civilian employees support maintenance and training.
- The Army would cancel or reduce depot-level equipment maintenance, including the reset of materiel returning from deployment. “National Guard units will return to their states with equipment in a low state of readiness, and it may not be available to the unit to support state authorities in response to tornadoes, floods or wildfires — or a complex catastrophe,” he said.
- The Air National Guard would be forced to “park” aircraft, degrading readiness.
- Military construction projects would be cut.
- Some facility security, firefighting, grounds keeping, custodial, snow removal and maintenance contracts might have to be cancelled – affecting jobs in communities and costing even more money in penalties for early termination.
- Equipment shortages would degrade training opportunities.
- Training cuts by the Army and the Air Force would affect both the Army and Air Guard. “Under sequestration, most flying units (in the Air Guard) will be below acceptable readiness standards by the end of this fiscal year,” Grass said.
“Your support is needed more than ever today to mitigate the impacts of sequestration,” Grass told senators. “Without Congressional action, these across-the-board cuts will impact the National Guard’s ability to meet steady state demands and act as a strategic hedge for unforeseen world events.”