Grass to Senators: Reconsider the Guard

NGAUS Washington Report

(April 23, 2013) Traditional assumptions about force structure deserve reconsideration in the current fiscal environment, the chief of the National Guard Bureau said last week.

During testimony on Capitol Hill, Gen. Frank J. Grass was asked about the optimum mix of active duty troops and reservists.

"All of our historic assumptions deserve reconsideration as we calculate the optimal force to meet the threats of the future," Grass said after testifying to the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on defense.

"This isn't just a budget drill to meet sequestration targets," he added, according to a National Guard Bureau release. "As the Defense Department confronts the budget question, the National Guard's cost-effective, proven force provides options to consider."

During Wednesday's testimony, Grass also was asked about the possible furlough of National Guard military technicians in the 54 states, territories and the District of Columbia as part of the ongoing sequestration issue.

"Our military technicians represent more than 50 percent of our full-time work force," Grass said after the hearing. "Without them, planes don't fly and trucks don't roll."

Grass added that furloughs will affect the National Guard far more than most realize because National Guard military technicians who wear uniforms while on duty provide critical training and maintenance, and support the readiness of more than 400,000 traditional Guard members who are not currently deployed overseas or mobilized for domestic operations.

"Just as noncommissioned officers are the backbone of the armed forces, our military technicians are in many ways the backbone of the National Guard," Grass said.