06 September 2014

Budget Shortfalls Affecting Military Operations


"If you have to lose 18 pounds, you can change your diet and exercise, or simply cut off your head," asserted Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, a former National Guard Bureau Chief.

Homeland Defense’s Paul McHale, former Assistant Secretary of Defense, while speaking at the Heritage Foundation warned that, "It's very likely that 20,000 National Guard troops will be cut." McHale added that the Army will have to relocate some of its funding and support the National Guard with the shrinking budgets.

Both the retired officers believe extensive budget cuts like these would not only put the National Guard’s domestic readiness at risk but also the national security of the country.

The Army National Guard units from all 50 states and four territories are bearing the brunt of a budgetary shortfall of $101 million at a national level. Thousands of soldiers belonging to the Army of National Guards in Wisconsin State have had their trainings delayed, with their counterparts in Ohio and Delaware following closely.

The Delaware News Journal quotes Delaware’s top officer, Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala:  “September training has been called off for the state’s soldiers to make up for the sins of others.”

With more troops stationed at home, this situation has further strained the budget. Captain John Fesler said the Guard's national shortfall came from fewer mobilizations and more training sessions than expected over the past year.

National Guard members are paid anywhere from $284 to $726 for a weekend of training, depending on their ranks and years of service. The decision to stall or cancel their trainings hurts them economically and disrupts in their social and family lives. These guards are technically used as reserve armed forces by the president and state governors to help deal with state emergencies like civil unrest or natural disasters and sometimes for military action.

As soon as Ohio Governor John Kasich declared a state of emergency in three of Ohio’s counties last month, the National Guard delivered clean drinking water and water purification systems. Similarly in Missouri, last month, after the killing of an unarmed black man by a white police officer, protests got out of hand. The Missouri Guard members were then called in to help deal with violent protesters and keep the situation under control.

According to National Guard Bureau, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, around 500,000 guard members have been sent on federal missions to date, including overseas combat duties as well.

Overall, the National Guard Bureau is looking to reprogram other available year-end funds.

If the Pentagon decides to cut funding in areas of equipment and facilities, then this would result in less-trained, less-equipped personnel and longer response periods. Congress has some tough decisions to make.

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