This Is What Might Happen in the Guard if Congress Allows Sequestration to Proceed
Budget sequestration has been a major discussion topic in the defense community for some time. The Defense Department resisted even planning for sequestration for many months, but it now seems more and more likely that it will happen.
Cuts will affect the Guard. That much is certain. But what exactly does the Guard stand to lose if sequestration becomes a reality?
Here are a few answers to that question.
- According to a Army National Guard Bureau offical speaking under the condition of anonymity, all 32,000 Federal Military Technicians in the Army Guard would likely take an 8 percent paycut. This is perhaps the most serious cut facing the Guard. While military personnel are not to be affected by automatic cuts, civilian employees of DoD are subject to the cuts. Military technicians fall into this gray area and can expect to take a cut, probably in the form of 22 furlough days throughout the year. The day-to-day operations of the National Guard are dependent upon the work of technicians, and the loss of so many man hours could have effects felt throughout the force.
- Operations and Maintenance budgets will decrease. According to an Office of Management and Budget report, the Army Guard will see a cut of $686 million in its O&M budget. The Air Guard will see a $577 million cut.
- Military construction dollars will disappear. The Army Guard would lose $100 million in MILCON funding, while the Air Guard would take a $17 million reduction. The Guard already has the oldest facilities in the military, and this cut will affect projects in the states.
The NGB official says that while the National Guard will feel the cuts significantly, the Guard's active-component counterparts are even more nervous about the cuts because of the number of contractors and civilian employers that may be laid off or furloughed. The huge infrastructure throughout the active force needs massive support from civilian employees and contractors to operate, and without them, the services are nervous about their ability to function. If sequestration proceeds, you may see a uniformed soldier mowing the lawn on an active-duty base near you.
It's already known that Guard operates lean because it doesn't need to maintain the same infrastructures as the active-component services. That, according to the NGB official, means that the sequestration cuts could be easier for the Guard to stomach.
That may be true, at least in the short term. But such long term cuts could affect the future readiness of the Guard throughout the country.
2/6/13 UPDATE: I edited the first bullet point to reflect that the technician cuts refer to Army Guard technicians only. I have not heard yet whether or not a similar cut will happen on the Air Guard side. -ARW