The Air Force FY13 Budget Saga Continues: House Readiness Subcommittee Hears the States' Side of the Story

Today, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness met to hold a hearing on the Department of the Air Force aircraft force structure reductions proposed in the 2013 President's budget request. The witnesses included Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa, Major General Timothy Lowenberg – TAG of the Washington National Guard and Director of the Washington Military Department, and Lieutenant General Christopher D. Miller USAF – Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Programs for the Air Force, A8.

Both General Lowenberg and Governor Branstad gave wonderful testimonies, focusing on the lack of communication or consultation by the Air Force with the states during the FY13 budget process. The National Guard after all pulls from a variety of talents and missions that make us a great resource when it comes to strategic planning. However, the TAGs and the Council of Governors, as we all know, were locked out of the FY13 budget process - the National Guard Bureau was limited by 'Non-Disclosure Agreements' - that is fundamentally, gag orders. 

Governor Terry Branstad

Gov. Branstad in his testimony made a statement that registered greatly with many of the Congressional members present at the hearing: "I - along with my Council co-chair, Gov. Chris Gregoire of Washington, relayed governor's frustrations and dismay at having to read about the proposed cuts to the Air National Guard in the newspaper."

Gen. Lowenberg's testimony reflected everyone's frustrations, and stressed that "the National Guard Bureau is the channel of communication on all matters pertaining to the National Guard of the United States, the Army National Guard of the United States, and the Air National Guard of the United States between (1) the Department of the Army and the Department of the Air Force, and (2) the several States...When State officials sought clarification from the National Guard Bureau, they were reminded that NGB officials were subject to Non-Disclosure Agreements and could not disclose information...until they were submitted to Congress." 

Major General Timothy Lowenberg 

As the lone Air Force official on the witness panel, Lt.General Miller was grilled by Congressional members - many of who relayed the message that Congress are not happy the Air Force has still not yet given Congress data, analysis, metrics, or assumptions that were used when crafting the FY13 budget. This hearing did little to address or ease those frustrations.

Gov. Branstad's final words in his testimony stand as a scary look to the future, one we hope will not happen: "Without quick action to ensure communications with states, we may be faced with similar budget disagreements next year."

But don't you worry readers, your NGAUS legislative team will be there to pick up the battle, if or when it comes next year.

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