Issues & Advocacy

Issue: Maintain an Operational Force

Allowing the National Guard to regress back to a strategic reserve would squander a decade of investment in training, equipping, and readiness.

Issues Overview 

Maintaining the National Guard as an operational force is vital to preserving over a decade of investment and gained experience. As our military shifts towards a new defensive strategy, the Department of Defense cannot operate on traditional standards and assumptions and must recognize the value and capability the National Guard brings to the defense of our nation. 

What's At Stake?

Since 9/11, our military forces have sustained a high operational tempo due to the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Air and Army National Guardsmen have been mobilized more than 750,000 times in support of overseas missions. In addition, hundreds of thousands of soldiers and airmen were called up during the same time period by their states for domestic response. Not only is the National Guard a vital part of the Total Force and proficient in overseas missions, it is the Nation’s premier domestic operational force. The National Guard can rapidly augment local and state first responders to protect the American people at home and it does so…every day.

The unique capabilities of the National Guard
No longer the benchwarmers, the National Guard has become the go-to force that can do things others can't. The National Guard is ideal for security cooperation missions that underline America's efforts to maintain global leadership and influence. As a force raised from American communities, no one better understands how to make community bridges like the National Guard.The ultimate strategic and social capital of the National Guard lies in the fact that they are first and foremost citizens.They exemplify a unique blend of civilian and military training and skills that their Active Component counterparts don’t possess, enabling them to conduct civil missions at home and military operations abroad.

A voice inside the Pentagon
In 2011, Congress passed legislation elevating the Chief of the National Guard Bureau to a permanent position on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, making the position the primary advisor to the President and the Secretary of Defense on matters of homeland defense. However, a seat on the JCS is not yet a seat at every table in the Pentagon. Recent defense budgets have disproportionately cut the Guard and allotted less funding to equipment procurement, placing domestic response and Total Force readiness in jeopardy. If current trends remain, the Guard will be placed “back on the self,” squandering years of hard-earned capability, investment and experience. Currently, leaders of the National Guard are working inside the Pentagon to break down barriers that left the Guard at a disadvantage to the active forces in competing for shrinking defense resources. 

Mounting challenges
The National Guard faces daunting challenges and inadequate funding to replace and modernize its rapidly aging equipment and facilities. In order to continue to maintain the Guard as an operational force within the Total Force construct, Congress must continue to provide for Guard resources not only through Army and Air Force budgets, but through the National Guard and Reserves Equipment Account (NGREA) and Military Construction (MILCON) accounts. Congress has authorized and appropriated additional NGREA funding in each of the last 30 years because the active services’ budgets fail to adequately fund the National Guard. This funding is the Guard’s lifeblood, providing capital for critical procurement and modernization. Without robust NGREA and military construction funding, the National Guard would be unable to meet the readiness needs of its diverse missions. 

NGAUS supports:

  • Statutory and policy changes that cement the National Guard as an operational versus strategic reserve
  • Strong consideration for maintaining National Guard personnel, equipment and resources as a vital and cost effective part of Army and Air Force plans for the future
  • Continued Congressional funding for MILCON and the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account
  • Increased National Guard representation in Congressional hearings and forums traditionally reserved for Active Duty participation and applicable to a membership on the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • National Guard access to new technology and equipment equal and proportional to that purchased for Active Duty forces