National Guard Costs Would Shift to the States Under Sequestration

Severe cuts to the military that may come as a result of sequestration next year may adversely impact the National Guard, and by extension, domestic security, former Pentagon leaders said.

Paul McHale, a former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania who also served as assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, warned that sequestration would affect Title 32 funding, which allows the National Guard to operate under the command of its governor and act in a law enforcement role while the federal government foots the bill.

"That is the ultimate impact of sequestration to our National Guard," McHale said at a conference at The Heritage Foundation. "We use Title 32 pretty regularly."

A loss of that money would put the financial burden of any domestic threat or crisis at the state level.

"States are also cash poor; they're strapped right now," said retired Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, former chief of the National Guard. "It is a bare bones, underfunded organization, historically."

Sequestration, which aims to cut $500 billion in the federal budget over the next 10 years, could result in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs within the National Guard, they said. Even if sequestration does spare personnel, it will severely cut into training, the operations and maintenance of equipment and result in an under-equipped National Guard, the two agreed.

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