NGAUS: Why Are Army Leaders So Afraid of a Commission?

WASHINGTON (April 15, 2014) ― The National Guard Association of the United States today released the following statement by retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett, the NGAUS president:

“Nothing seems more distasteful to Army leaders these days than the notion of Congress creating a commission to take an outside look at how best to structure the force for 2020 and beyond.

“At recent congressional hearings and to reporters, the Army chief of staff and vice chief of staff quickly dismissed ― often angrily ― any merit to the idea. This begs an obvious question: Why are Army leaders so afraid of a commission?

“The answer is equally obvious.

“An independent look at the Army’s five-year budget plan, a scheme that briefed well inside the Pentagon, completely falls apart at contact with reality. It will become quickly apparent that it is a scheme built on a foundation of inflated active-component Army training and readiness in order to devalue the future capabilities of the Army National Guard.   

“An unbiased review also would show that shifting all of the Army National Guard’s Apache attack helicopters to the active component saves no money while squandering the Total Army’s most experienced Apache pilots and maintainers. And contrary to what Army leaders told Congress last week, it would reveal that not one governor or adjutant general favors the Army Aviation Restructuring Initiative.    

“And that’s just the beginning of what Army leaders have to fear from an independent commission. Such a look would show that the Army five-year budget plan clearly sacrifices the Total Force and the Army’s strategic depth in order to maintain the size and relevancy of the active component.

“Even General Frank J. Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, was able to get around what appeared to be a Pentagon gag order at that Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last week to say that ‘it never hurts to have another look.’ He deflected most other questions.

“At the same hearing, the Army chief staff of staff said taking a year for an independent review could cost up to $1 billion. But rushing forward could cost the nation more. A lot more.

“His real concern, however, would appear not to be a delay or even $1 billion. It’s the possibility that a commission could recommend what many of our NATO allies are already doing: Rely more on reserve forces, like the Guard, to save money while maintaining defense capability.

“We need to do what’s best for America, not just what is best for one military institution.”

Reporters, Editors & Producers: Retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett is available for interviews or to appear as a subject matter expert on defense issues related to the National Guard. Contact John Goheen at 202-789-0031 or john.goheen@ngaus.org to schedule an interview or appearance.

About NGAUS: The association includes nearly 45,000 current or former Guard officers. It was created in 1878 to provide unified National Guard representation in Washington. In their first productive meeting after Reconstruction, militia officers from the North and South formed the association with the goal of obtaining better equipment and training by petitioning Congress for more resources. Today, 136 years later, NGAUS has the same mission.