NGAUS Asks for Grassroots Support

Washington Report

(May 6, 2014) NGAUS sent out two legislative alerts this week ahead of the House Armed Services Committee’s markup of the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The first alert, the association’s sixth of the year, asks members to write their congressional representatives in support of amendments to the NDAA that would grant the chief of the National Guard Bureau (NGB) authority to recommend directors and deputy directors of the Army and Air National Guards.

Allowing the chief to participate in the selection process would give him the chance to create his own leadership team. Grace Washbourne, NGAUS legislative affairs manager for joint programs and domestic operations, says this would allow the chief to better manage changes at NGB and it would allow the Bureau to better work as a joint activity of the Defense Department.

“Empowerment means more than a seat at the table.  It means making those administrative changes that help the Chief mold the National Guard Bureau into an organization that is well integrated,” Washbourne says.

The seventh alert of the year asks members to write their congressional representatives in support of an amendment that expands National Guard counter-drug operations and puts in law support for regional National Guard Counter-drug Training Centers. The program was created by Congress in 1989 to help bridge the gap between the Defense Department and state and local law-enforcement agencies in the fight against illegal drugs.

Since 2012, funding for the program has significantly decreased, and the president’s fiscal 2015 budget did not allocate any funds for the training centers. The training centers are now at risk of closing, and Washbourne says ties to state and local law enforcement are relationships the Guard does best.

“This is a successful program, built on years of hard work and commitment,” she says. “Threats from  transnational criminal organizations and drug smuggling have not abated.  Neither should programs that integrate local, state and federal operations to combat drug crimes that affect every American community.”