In a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate armed services committees, retired Brig. Gen. Roy Robinson, the NGAUS president, made clear the association’s views on several provisions of the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that affect the National Guard.
Congressional negotiators are working this month to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the massive defense policy bill. Robinson pointed out several provisions that NGAUS believes should be included in the final bill and a couple it hopes will be left out.
The letter was sent this month to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and to Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., who hold the same positions on the House panel.
NGAUS supports inclusion of House Section 513 that incorporates the National Guard Promotion Accountability Act. This would require the Air Force and Army secretaries to provide back pay and time-in-grade to Guard officers who wait months for federal recognition of their state-approved promotions. Robinson said, “Timely recognition of officer promotions is paramount to morale and retention and adopting this provision would improve National Guard personnel management.”
The association also requests that the NDAA include House Section 1638, which requires the secretaries of the defense and homeland security departments to study establishing cyber-civil-support teams in the reserve component in each state. The teams would be under the control of governors. Robinson noted the high level of civilian cyber expertise found in the Guard.
Part of House Section 7101 is also on the NGAUS list. It would authorize $192 million to purchase AH-64E Apache helicopters to address shortfalls in the Army Guard. The new aircraft would push the Army Guard closer to the Army requirement of 24 aircraft per battalion. Guard battalions currently have 18 helicopters. The section also authorizes $85 million for additional UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for the Army Guard, which would help narrow a growing capability gap.
Senate Sections 606 and 607 are important to Guardsmen, Robinson pointed out. The first would allow Guardsmen and Reservists to receive high-deployment allowance when deployed under 12304b authority. “[W]e believe all Guardsmen and reservists deployed on rapid, successive deployments under these orders should be afforded protection from financial hardship the same as they would under other mobilization authorities,” the letter said.
Section 607 would prevent pay reduction for reserve-component members who are also federal employees when they deploy under 12304b. “These protections already exist when Guardsmen and Reservists serve on deployments under other mobilization authorities,” Robinson wrote.
NGAUS would like congressional negotiators to exclude House Section 506 and 511, which would make changes to the dual-status technician program. Section 506 would allow a technician to leave the Guard, but retain his or her job indefinitely. NGAUS thinks this would deprive younger service members of an opportunity to advance.
Section 511 would put the hiring of dual-status technicians in the competitive service. NGAUS believes this would delay the hiring process and remove the state from the hiring and management process.