07.24.09

Senate OKs Leahy-Bond Measure To Upgrade Guard’s Command Structure By Creating New Senior Level Post At The National Guard Bureau

. . . Vice Chief of Bureau Position, Added To Defense Bill, Is Latest ‘Guard Empowerment’ Reform

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Thursday night added an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2010 Defense Authorization Bill to create the position of Vice Chief at the National Guard Bureau.  The amendment was sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), the co-chairs of the 96-member Senate National Guard Caucus.
 
In the Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Authorization Bill, Leahy and Bond partnered to elevate the Chief of the National Guard from a three-star general to a four-star general.  Enactment of their earlier Guard Empowerment Act provisions has ensured the Guard a seat at the table for major budget and policy decisions, resulting in expansion of the duties and responsibilities of the Chief of the Guard Bureau.   The new position of Vice Chief of the National Guard Bureau will give the Chief a principal deputy to assist in day-to-day operations of the National Guard in organizing, training and equipping more than 460,000 soldiers, airmen and civilian forces serving in the United States and overseas.
 
In addition to serving as the primary reserve to the active military when assigned abroad, the National Guard is the nation’s first military responder for domestic emergencies, such as natural disasters.  Bond and Leahy note that no organization in the U.S. defense structure has more experience, expertise and capability than the Guard does when it comes to domestic response and providing support to civilian authorities.  The Vice Chief will support the Chief of the Guard Bureau in a wide range of joint and inter-agency activities and, as delegated by the Chief, will work with other senior officials in the Army, Air Force and National Guard Bureau.
 
Leahy said, “Since 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan we have been calling on the Guard like never before.  Today’s National Guard is a 21st Century defense force that has been trapped in a 20th Century Pentagon decision structure.  Guard Empowerment is about clearing out these organizational cobwebs and integrating the Guard more fully into the process of making and implementing key decisions involving the Guard’s many missions.  The new post of Vice Chief adds more muscle to the structure of these reforms.”
 
 “With well over 450,000 service members, providing the Chief of the National Guard a deputy is just common sense,” said Bond.  “There is no doubt we are asking more from the men and women of the National Guard today than ever before, often at great cost to their families and their own lives.  We have a responsibility to support our citizen-soldiers and airmen in their unique dual mission of providing military support abroad and homeland defense state-side and this bipartisan provision is an important step.”
 
The Defense Authorization bill also included the Voinovich-Leahy-Bond amendment officially authorizing the National Guard's State Partnership Program (SPP).

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