Comments Of Senator Leahy On The Revised Department Of Defense Proposal For Air National Guard Force Structure

Senator Patrick Leahy is co-chair of the Senate National Guard Caucus and a senior member of the Defense Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“General Breedlove and I  have discussed the Pentagon’s proposed response to the concerns raised in Congress and by the Council of Governors.  He promised a detailed paper explaining how the C-130s and associated Guard manpower would be placed around the country.  Until I can evaluate those details I cannot offer firm, final conclusions about the new Air Force proposal.  The original Air Force plan was a nonstarter, and this offer is a constructive step forward in our ongoing negotiations.  I will discuss with other senators what further changes would be necessary to reach a final compromise with the Air Force.

“Some concerns already are apparent.  These C-130s are aircraft that the Defense Department called excess to requirements in earlier force structure studies.  Unless these C-130s are newer C-130Js, they will be the first to face cuts in future budget plans.  Restoring only 2200 Air Guard personnel means that the Air Force has still failed to meet the governors in the middle on personnel cuts.  No deal is likely until the Air Force is prepared to make roughly equal manpower cuts to the Guard and the active duty force as a proportion of each component’s overall end strength.

“After missteps at the starting line, we are now moving in the right direction to solve this.  As long as both sides show a willingness to talk about how we can move forward and forge a workable compromise, Congress can avoid having to step in with binding legislation to resolve it.”

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