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Governors, Airmen Rip 'Dangerous' Federalization of Guard

05-07-24 WR Space Roundtable WEBSITE
05-07-24 WR Space Roundtable WEBSITE
Washington Report

The chair and vice chair of the National Governors Association say the Air Force's latest plan for the National Guard constitutes "dangerous" federal overreach.

"It is a dangerous precedent on the slippery slope towards federalization of our state National Guard resources," Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (pictured right in the above photo), a Democrat and the vice chair of the NGA, said during a virtual press conference Monday.

"The precedent of this is really damaging to the trust and the relationship we have had for so long," Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, (pictured left in the above photo) a Republican and the chair of the NGA, added of the Guard’s partnership with the Air Force.

Legislative Proposal 480 would let the Air Force move the Air Guard’s space operators into the Space Force without the consent of the governors whose states are impacted.

Critics argue allowing LP 480 would erode 120 years of federal law and let the active components harvest the Guard’s resources at will.

As of Tuesday, all 55 of the nation’s state and territorial governors have voiced opposition to LP 480.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress also criticized LP 480 in a Monday letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees.

Monday’s letter included signatures from 86 lawmakers, including 57 House representatives and 29 senators.

If implemented, LP 480 would directly affect about 1,000 Guardsmen in the Air Guard’s 14 space units across seven states nationwide.

Polis on Monday rejected the idea that LP 480 only harms America’s space states, arguing an attack on one state is an attack on all.

"To say that only the seven that have active Space Guards are affected is simply not correct and understates," he said.

Cox added that while the Defense Department not treating the nation’s governors as equal partners is "deeply frustrating," the Pentagon has unified them against LP 480.

"It is nice helping the United States be bipartisan again," he said of national debate over the proposal.

Polis warned that most of the Guard’s space personnel would not transfer to the Space Force if pressured to do so.

"We estimate the risk of loss as upwards of 80% of personnel in a domain, the space domain, that is incredibly important for our national security, and only becoming more so," he said.

Col. Daniel C. Wrazien, the Hawaii Air Guard’s director of staff, argued on Friday the Guard’s space talent can’t easily be replaced during such a crucial time in the space domain.

"We simply cannot give our adversaries one year to catch up on our space capabilities," he said during a media roundtable with some of the Guard’s space operators.

Col. Michael S. Griesbaum, the commander of the Alaska Air Guard’s 168th Wing, cautioned against viewing LP 480 as a one-time move.

"LP 480 is an existential threat to the National Guard," he said. "Nothing legislatively ever happens once."

— By Mark Hensch