By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
When the nation was first created the states, all had militias that they used to defend the state against foreign invasion or domestic insurrection. Defense is primarily a federal responsibility, but throughout our history, the militia: the Alabama National Guard has been there to fight America’s wars, respond to emergencies, and defend the homeland. The Federal government eventually assumed the funding authority over the Alabama National Guard instead of the State. Over the last five years the Alabama National Guard has suffered from crippling federal budget cuts and the Obama Administration is asking Congress to cut the Guard even further going forward.
On Tuesday, April 29, 2014 Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey (R) joined dozens of State leaders nationwide asking President Obama and the U.S. Congress to carefully consider proposed federal funding cuts to the State’s National Guard.
Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey wrote, “The Alabama National Guard answers the call time and time again in support of battles on many fronts, domestic and abroad. Earlier this month, the 187th Fighter Wing based in Montgomery deployed to Afghanistan to fill a critical need in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. And as severe weather actively threatens our state, the Guard is being called upon once again to provide vital aid and emergency response to citizens here at home.”
Lieutenant Governor Ivey said, “As Chair of the Military Stability Commission, I am committed to securing and strengthening Alabama’s military assets. I certainly respect the need to review, modernize and balance budgets; but I request transparent and careful examination of the cost effectiveness of the National Guard and the essential nature of its service to states and territories.”
Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman (D) from Connecticut said, “The National Guard is an integral part of our State emergency response teams providing critical assistance during disasters. Lieutenant Governors from around the country support their efforts and are urging careful review of funding and resources.”
Lt. Governor Todd Lamb (R) from Oklahoma said, “The accomplishments of the National Guard are unparalleled in response to flood, wildfire, storm, and serving our nation overseas. The National Guard is an effective and efficient element of U.S. homeland security and public safety nationwide.”
The letter says that the State is second in command, including Lt. Gov. Ivey, “Oppose potential cuts to the Army National Guard found in various versions of the fiscal 2015 U.S. Army budgets circulating on Capitol Hill. As a unique state-based military force, the National Guard is the only military force that is shared by the states and the federal government. It is a ready, reliable, and essential force that responds to national disasters and emergencies, and is critical to peace and security at home and abroad.”
The letter continues, “As the executive branch seconds-in-command of the states, we appreciate the need to examine military structure and readiness to meet both ongoing and new threats amidst current budget considerations. However, some proposed versions of the fiscal 2015 Army National Guard budgets would cut Army National Guard forces to a pre-2001 level.”
“A return to these levels is contrary to the interest of the states and nation and we encourage transparent discussion of active duty and National Guard force structure pre- and post-9/11. On January 30 of this year, the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force made its final report concluding that the Guard is a cost-effective and invaluable force that should be a critical component of the total force structure. This finding and the ongoing budgetary debate provides strong foundation for a similar independent review of the Army’s future force structure. Across the many and diverse states we represent, the accomplishments of the National Guard are unparalleled in response to flood, wildfire, storm, and serving our nation overseas. We stand together in support to maintain Army Guard operational capabilities.”
Nearly forty of the seconds-in-command in the states and territories co-signed the letter.
The letter comes on the eve of an important congressional hearing regarding the proposed cuts. National Guard Bureau Chief General Frank Grass is scheduled to testify to the U.S.
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Defense Wednesday in Washington D.C.