The National Guard's ability to provide critical response to Americans at a moment’s notice relies on planning and dedicated funding.
Every day, the National Guard responds to requests from civilian authorities during emergencies within our country. Saving lives and protecting property is a duty the Guard provides faithfully and without question. Whether responding within their state or across state borders, the Guard does what it takes to help civilians during a time of crisis.
What's At Stake?
Located in over 3,000 communities, the National Guard is immediately available as the most experienced of military first responders. In times of natural disasters, wildfires or special events like the Presidential Inauguration, the National Guard composes 96 percent of all military support to civilian authorities. With thousands of Guard readiness centers and wings spread all over the United States, the National Guard stands ready to provide critical response to Americans at a moment’s notice.
Budget Accountability Challenges
The Chief of the National Guard Bureau is now a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and serves as the most senior military advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for domestic operations. Despite this, the National Guard has little opportunity to weigh its expansive knowledge of domestic response operations as a priority into the President’s planning and budget processes.Currently, the National Guard is equipped through two service budgets and the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account (NGREA). Relying on training funds and Title 10 “dual-use” equipment decided in Army and Air Force budget-processes, which are focused on the overseas warfight, while hoping NGREA will cover equipment vital for domestic response promotes inefficiencies and uncertainty.
This budgetary process forced the National Guard to beg for what should be a well-defined role with well-defined requirements and dedicated funding. For example, decisions to cut airlift platforms from the National Guard were clearly made without thought to what a critical requirement this is for the states and the National Guard when responding to emergencies. Domestic operations by their very nature are joint operations, yet decisions are made separately in Army and Air Force processes. NGREA comes by the largess of Congress, not from a formal budget or validated requirements – becoming a domestic operations account by necessity rather than design. The time for planned, programmed and unambiguous federal funding for the National Guard to conduct emergency domestic response operations is long overdue.
Protecting American Lives and Property Remains the #1 Priority
As our government confronts the hard choices that need to be made during these times of fiscal uncertainty, decision-makers need to understand that cuts to Guard personnel and force structure means degradation to domestic response. Separating the Guard’s crucial domestic mission from wartime budgets and across the board cuts in personnel is the only way to make sure we are not endangering American lives.
- Improved accountability and stewardship of federal resources dedicated to National Guard support to civilian authorities
- The National Guard Bureau establishing requirements for National Guard support to civilian authorities based on civilian capabilities and shortfalls, threat and hazard identification, and risk assessments, and in coordination with governors, state adjutants general, and the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, the Army and the Air Force
- The creation of a dedicated, reliable Defense Department joint fund within the President’s Budget for National Guard support of civilian authorities
- Strong funding for equipment and training needed for domestic operations and emergency response to disasters, both catastrophic and common