05.22.09

Senators Leahy, Bond Secure $500 Million To Address National Guard, Reserve Equipment Shortfalls

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Kit Bond (R-Mo.), co-chairs of the Senate National Guard Caucus, announced that they have secured an additional $500 million to help the National Guard and Reserves address critical equipment shortfalls, in a budget bill passed by the Senate Thursday night.

“Despite our best efforts to increase funding for the Guard and Reserves, they continue to face equipment shortfalls,” Bond said. “The funding announced today will certainly help, but the fight to ready better these citizen warriors is not over.  These brave men and women have been called to serve in unprecedented ways in recent years and it is time the government considers the critical dual role mission the Guard and Reserve play in keeping our nation safe and secure.”

“Equipping the National Guard with the supplies they need to perform their long list of national security and domestic emergency duties is an essential and ongoing congressional responsibility,” said Leahy.  “This infusion will help the resupply effort.” 

Bond and Leahy were successful in adding the $500 million to the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account in the 2009 Emergency War Supplemental Bill that passed the Senate Thursday night.  Before being signed into law the bill must be agreed to in conference with the House version. The funds Bond and Leahy secured will help to ensure the National Guard and Reserves have the equipment needed to carry out missions both at home and abroad.

As the missions of the National Guard and Reserve have been expanded in recent years, Bond and Leahy have led the fight to increase funding to the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account.  The Guard and Reserve are tasked with responding to natural disasters, domestic emergencies and providing on the ground active duty support overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan and other foreign locations.  Despite this expanded role the Guard and Reserves face drastic equipment shortfalls.

The equipment shortfalls facing the National Guard and Reserves threaten to hinder their ability to respond to a full range of domestic and international emergencies. The Army National Guard, for example, still needs more than $10 billion in additional equipment to fully reach the authorized levels in its various combat and support brigades and the Air National Guard has identified more than $8 billion in needed, but unfunded upgrades. The Air National Guard must also soon address its aging tactical fighter fleet that currently has no scheduled replacement. If left unaddressed, 80 percent of the Air National Guard’s fighter aircraft fleet will be gone in less than 10 years.

Bond and Leahy co-chair the Senate’s more than 95-member National Guard Caucus.

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