Senate Defense Appropriators Question the Top Dogs
Senate Appropriators on the Subcommittee on Defense (SAC-D) met yesterday morning to hold a hearing on the FY13 Defense spending bill. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey and Undersecretary of Defense Comptroller Robert Hale were present to give testimonies and answer questions.
There were a few moments worth noting in the hearing.
- Secretary Panetta, in his opening remarks, emphasized the importance of maintaining a strong Guard and Reserve, who have proven strong and able to mobilize quickly. Again the Secretary noted that on the battlefield you can’t tell the difference between the active duty, Guard and Reserve.
- Sen. Leahy (D-VT) discussed the dependence on the National Guard and Reserves, questioning Secretary Panetta’s opening statements in light of the Air Force’s decision to decrease the Air National Guard. Secretary Panetta responded that their approach was to create multi-mission support which resulted in the decision to trim some areas for that end. Senator Leahy countered that his biggest concern these DoD decisions impact overall readiness. In response, the Secretary said the AF needs more active duty to deploy quickly and also reiterated that he attempted to compromise by offering the 24 C-130s, but is more than willing to work with the committee to “minimize the impact but at the same time, hopefully achieve some of the necessary savings that we have to do.
- Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) asked about impact of the AF proposal on the refueling wing in Alaska. Secretary Panetta responded that they’re trying to save money by unifying Eielson and Elmendorf, and they have no plans to shut down Eielson. Senator Murkowski responded that getting rid of key infrastructure at Eielson would amount to a backdoor BRAC, and that moves being made by the AF do not seem to coincide with the new defense strategy.
Though it may be pretty dry stuff, the SAC-D hearing made it clear Congress is not very happy with the way the Guard is being treated.
If you’re ambitious, feel free to read the whole hearing transcript here.