House Defense Committees Put the Air Back in the Air Guard

After a grueling battle of amendments, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) passed their version of the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) out of committee this morning at 2 a.m. The bill includes several NGAUS priorities, including halting cuts to the Air National Guard. The bill will now go to the full House for consideration.

Representatives Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA) introduced an amendment, sponsored by 17 HASC members, to the mark-up that prohibits the Air Force from divesting, retiring, or transferring any aircraft in its inventory as of May 31, 2012.These prohibitions stop the Air Force and Army from moving forward with proposed retirement of Active Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, and Army National Guard aircraft in fiscal year 2013, including all C-27, A-10, C-130, F-16, C-5, KC-135, E-8, MC-12, C-23, or other aircraft slated for retirement/transfer in the President’s budget request. The bill covers the cost of continuing to operate the aircraft by increasing funding for Air Force, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and Army National Guard personnel and operations by $709.6 million. Additionally, for any future plans, it requires a DOD report, by March 1, 2013, laying out the economic analysis, alternative options, and effect of the various planned transfers/retirements, and within 90 days of the DOD report being delivered, requires a GAO analysis and review of the DOD’s report and supporting documentation.

The bill also prohibits the Army from divesting, retiring, or transferring any C-23 aircraft in its inventory, establishes a National Guard State Partnership Center of Excellence, blocks base closure rounds and provides for a 1.7 percent increase in pay next year for uniformed personnel.

The final bill text is not yet available, but when it is, NGAUS will provide full analysis of the bill here.

Meanwhile, on May 8, the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee approved, by voice vote, a $607.7 billion fiscal 2013 draft spending bill in a closed session. The funding lines are identical to what was released in the Chairman’s mark, and for National Guard accounts, no amendments were offered that changed appropriations levels. The bill addresses several NGAUS priorities including restored funding for the Air National Guard as well as language indicating that no funds may be used to retire, divest align or transfer ANG aircraft, robust NGREA funding, increased funding for counter-drug defense-wide, and a halt on the C-23 retirement.  It also include $2.5 billion for 69 UH-60 Blackhawks, a plus-up of 10 UH-60s above the President’s request, which will hopefully go to the Guard as NGAUS requested.

The bill provides $2.0 billion for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account (NGREA), however, there is no breakdown for how much each reserve component would receive.

Overall, most National Guard accounts are up from the President’s FY13 Budget Request, and the ARNG and ANG did well when compared to all defense accounts. 

Since the bill was approved in a closed session and more details have not yet been released, a full analysis will be available when the bill is made public.

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