WASHINGTON, May 2, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Guard Association of the United States today released the following statement by retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr., the NGAUS president:
"National Guard leaders across the country are humbled and buoyed by the determination of the nation's governors to stave off the Air Force's ill-advised and disproportionate cuts to the Air National Guard in the fiscal 2013 defense budget request.
"Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta invited the governors' participation in this process and, in fact, Title 32 of the U.S. Code requires their consent to cut the Guard. Yet the Air Force met the governors' offer of compromise with intransigence, fuzzy metrics and dubious counter proposals. The commanders in chief of the National Guard deserved a better-faith response.
"We appreciate Secretary Panetta's offer to establish a process with the governors to 'exchange views, information, and advice on state civil support requirements' before the development of the fiscal 2014 budget. Such a process likely would have prevented the current strife. But it does nothing to stop cuts in the 2013 budget request that precipitated the governors' concerns.
"We are now at a point we had hoped to avoid, but one we knew was probably inevitable. Even with a Guardsman on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the budget-development process within the Air Force suffers from scant attention to and little respect for domestic-response requirements. Threats overseas to our nation's interests certainly persist, but defending America begins at home.
"It is now time for Congress to keep current Air National Guard funding and force structure in place until the process that Secretary Panetta has offered can become a reality."
About NGAUS: The association includes nearly 45,000 current or former Guard officers. It was created in 1878 to provide unified 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 educating Congress on militia needs. Today, 134 years later, the militia is known as the National Guard, but NGAUS has the same mission.
SOURCE National Guard Association of the U.S.