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 Governor Supports Federal Legislation to Give Top Guard General a Seat on Joint Chiefs of Staff

 

February 17, 2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today announced his support for bills introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) that would give the chief of the National Guard Bureau a permanent seat on the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Guardians of Freedom Act of 2011 would make the National Guard’s top general a senior military adviser to the secretary of defense. The bill would also give the Guard Chief a voice in decisions affecting National Guard staffing or funding for the war fighting and homeland defense missions. The Senate bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

Gov. Tomblin pledged his support for the bill to Guard members during a visit with senior Guard leaders visiting West Virginia for Maj. Gen. Allen Tackett's retirement ceremony.

“Generals Tackett and Hoyer are well aware that I am committed to working through the National Governor’s Association and with West Virginia’s congressional delegation to get this bill passed. The National Guard is being called to duty more frequently than ever before and needs to be represented when decisions are made that affect the livelihood of our brave soldiers and airmen,” Gov. Tomblin said.

In a statement released just after his bill was introduced, Sen. Rockefeller said, “This bill will strengthen our national security, both abroad and here at home. By making the chief of the National Guard Bureau a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Guardians of Freedom Act of 2011 will guarantee the National Guard is a part of the discussion as the nation responds to threats, both foreign and domestic.”

Upon introducing the bill Congressman Rahall said, “Now, more than ever, this Nation is relying upon the Guard to wage combat on foreign soil. The training, equipping, and deployment of the Guard, as well as their budget, ought to be matters decided with input from the National Guard Chief at the highest levels of the military echelon. Now more than ever, the Guard needs a seat at the head table.”

The National Guard is the only military force with a constitutionally-mandated dual mission. Guard members have served for years alongside their active duty counterparts in combat missions overseas. But the Guard is also responsible for state and federal disaster relief and homeland defense.

The Guard’s efficiency in executing these varied missions is well-established and proven by data compiled by the National Guard Bureau. In 2010 the Army National Guard consumed less than 11 percent of the Army's budget while providing almost 40 percent of the Army's operating force. The Air National Guard operated on less than 7 percent of the Air Force's budget, and it currently comprises about one-third of the Air Force's capability, according to National Guard statistics.

Newly-appointed state Adjutant General James Hoyer is a 30-year Army National Guard veteran who has witnessed firsthand the Guard’s evolution from its strategic reserve role in the 1990’s to an operational force complementing the active duty Army and Air Force.

“I am in favor of any initiative that gives the Chief of the Guard Bureau input in decisions that affect our Guard members,” said Hoyer. “We are different than the active duty and bring unique capabilities to the fight. We would jeopardize our ability to fight the nation’s wars and protect the homeland if the National Guard is not adequately represented at the Pentagon,” the general said.

Contact: Jacqueline Proctor, 304-558-2000