Your Participation Needed Now!
“Senate Republicans and senior White House officials have quietly begun talks about the kind of sweeping fiscal legislation needed to lessen or void sequestration, raising hopes of a deal from miniscule to slight.”
This was a recent lead in a Defense News story discussing the potential for continued sequestration measures, which will be implemented in fiscal 2014 if the administration and Congress cannot find ways to put into place more than $450 billion in deficit-reduction measures. The “grand bargain” talks have been delayed for months, while Congress addresses other issues.
Further reductions on the scale required by sequestration will continue to have a large impact on the Defense Department, as the measure calls for $500 billion in defense cuts over a 10-year period. The fiscal 2013 cuts have already impacted the readiness of the National Guard and the quality of life for many of its members, particularly federal technicians.
NGAUS has a strong legislative agenda for fiscal 2014 designed to protect Guard missions, preserve its units and make wise and fiscally responsible force structure decisions to protect this country by using the proven strength and economy of citizen-soldiers and airmen. Just this year, the Reserve Forces Policy Board expressed the value of the reserve component, pointing out that it operates at about a third of the cost of the active component.
Regrettably, some Guardsmen who are not NGAUS members have stated that the association has done well without their membership. While it is true we received unprecedented congressional support during the last decade, that is not the norm and it will not continue.
Although we have great support from Congress, there is no longer the political will to fund defense programs at current or greater levels. Likewise, many have joined the association but have not actively engaged their political representatives at the state and federal levels. Again, in the past this was acceptable, but in the volatile future political climate, the voice of every active NGAUS member is important to make headway on important issues.
NGAUS is considered one of the most effective voices on Capitol Hill, favorably compared to the National Rifle Association in its ability to achieve its agenda. Such a reputation is fragile, as it requires continued active involvement of its membership to reach out to Congress and state legislatures.
In the coming years, your participation will be more important than ever to sustain the benefits we have fought for for many years.
The author is the Area V Army representative on the NGAUS Board of Directors.