Guard Readiness Threatened by Budget Inaction

(Feb. 11, 2013) If Congress fails to act to stop sequestration and the government continues to operate under a continuing resolution, the readiness and capabilities of the National Guard will be significantly degraded, according to the National Guard Bureau.

In a memorandum sent to adjutants general and public affairs officers Friday, the bureau described a force potentially dealing with a 12 percent loss of funding.

Congress has until March 1 to prevent sequestration from taking place. Sequestration would automatically remove more than $1 trillion from the defense budget over the next decade.

In addition, with no budget for the current fiscal year, the government, including the military, is operating under the budget levels for fiscal 2012.

Under that reality, the National Guard Bureau sees two out of three brigade combat teams at reduced readiness levels, excluding those in Afghanistan. Military training courses would be reduced or canceled.

Flying hours and weapon system sustainment would fall by as much as 18 percent. With aircraft parked, the readiness of flying units would fall below acceptable standards by the end of this fiscal year.

Lack of funding for military construction would defer 133 restoration and modernization projects at 55 installations.

The memorandum says 115,000 traditional Guardsmen would not receive their annual medical or dental exams, which would degrade medical readiness for the Total Force by 39 percent.

Military technicians would be affected, perhaps terminated or furloughed. A hiring freeze for military technicians would be necessary.

Discussions have included removing Guard units from the deployment pipeline and replacing them with active-component units. The memo notes that doing this would affect the readiness of the Guard units and make them potential targets for budget reductions.

Also, homeland defense units, such as Homeland Response Forces and Civil Support Teams, would be impacted with less training and a loss of equipment replenishment and sustainment. Up to 1,600 CST members may not receive training need to maintain their qualifications.