Deal or No Deal? Guard, Nation Watch

NGAUS Washington Report

(Oct. 15, 2013) Word in Washington, D.C., is that a deal is about to be struck that could end the government shutdown now in its 15th day.

But National Guardsmen shouldn’t be packing their bags for a weekend drill just yet.

Senators are reported to be close to agreeing on a plan that would end the shutdown and raise the debt limit, but there is doubt that such a deal would pass the House. The shutdown and the pending debt limit have dominated the nation’s capital since Oct. 1, when the shutdown began.

Meanwhile, Guardsmen who were to go to drill during the shutdown have stayed home, which impacts the readiness of the force, a top Guard official said last week.

“Most October drills are canceled, impacting nearly 400,000 National Guard members,” said Gen. Joseph Lengyel, the vice chief of the National Guard Bureau. “These drill periods are critical to maintaining the training and preparedness of our citizen-soldiers and airmen, nearly 85 percent of our force.”

The shutdown did not cancel drills for units preparing for deployment, he pointed out.

The Pay Our Military Act signed by President Barack Obama eased some of the shutdown’s impact on Guardsmen by allow many dual-status technicians to return to work. However, nearly 250 of those uniformed personnel remain on furlough.

“While this is a positive development, there is still more work to be done in order to get everyone back to work,” Lengyel said.