It's Time to Merge the Guard and Reserves
For the past few years, there's been a lot of talk about merging the National Guard and the Reserves--in military circles, in the Pentagon, and even on Capitol Hill. In the wake of shrinking budgets, it should come as no surprise to anyone that creative ways to trim costs are being discussed.
And we've been one of the loudest proponents of looking at the cost efficiencies of merging. In 2010, then-chairman of the NGAUS board, Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, discussed it in a July National Guard Magazine article, and in this month's issue of the magazine, current NGAUS Chairman of the Board, Maj. Gen Frank Vavala, has revived the debate. Some have called this idea "radical", but a lot of reservists, Guard and Army and Air Force reservists alike, seem to disagree.
Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr., chief of Air Force Reserve
(on right) and Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, director of the Air
National Guard during a HASC hearing.
As recently as last year, "The Gang of Five", comprised of retired major generals - three Guard, two Reserve - developed a merger proposal to combine the Air Force Reserves with the Air National Guard. General Schwartz was lukewarm at best to the idea, stating in an Air Force Times article that the proposal is “something we might look at down the road."
Well, we're down the road, and we're looking at it again because the nation can’t afford to have the Army and Air Guard and Reserves competing for funds and missions.
Today in an article in The Hill, U.S. Army Reservist, Retired Col. James Tyson Currie, who has written previous articles on this subject, reignited the debate in DC by penning, "It's Time to Merge the Reserve Forces". An excerpt from his article:
"The Defense Department’s budget is going to be cut next year, whether through sequestration or through the regular authorization and appropriation process. Armed Services and Appropriations Committee members and staff are even now searching through the DOD budget looking for savings, and to find one that would have no adverse effect on national security, while actually providing a better response to natural and manmade disasters, would seem almost miraculous. But it is there, right in front of us: merger of the federal reserve forces of the Army and the Air Force into those of the National Guard. Our country can no longer afford to keep the distinct federal and State military forces, with their duplicative headquarters and inefficiencies, while depriving State Governors of the resources they need to cope with natural and man-made disasters.
I testified in favor of such a merger when the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves held its hearings in 2007, and the result was hate mail from fellow federal reservists and a shrug from the members of the Commission. So, why do I surface this notion at the present time?
Because now is the appropriate time for it to happen, and there is no compelling reason why it should not happen. In 1997, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that merger of the Army Reserve and Army National Guard would save $2 billion over five years, a sum which does not include any of the savings from merging the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard. This sum probably underestimates the value of such a merger today, and while it is not a huge amount by Defense Department standards, $2 billion is $2 billion, and in the current budget environment, every little bit helps."
Tell us what you think - should Congress consider merging the National Guard and Reserves?