A joint column by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Adjutant General James Hoyer
May 14, 2014
We have asked the National Guard to fight our wars and respond to natural disasters and emergencies. West Virginia’s citizen soldiers have done so with extraordinary honor and courage.
Now, the federal government has proposed a series of significant cuts to the Army National Guard, which will have far-reaching consequences for our hometowns and our ability to respond to local emergencies and disasters. The connection between these communities and our military services, which many military leaders correctly insist, is essential to success during times of war.
If we continue down this road of significant budget reductions, we are essentially throwing away a significant portion of an investment that has yielded what is now the most well-trained National Guard we have seen in our Nation’s history. We also stand to lose a cost-effective operational force, critical to national security and our ability to respond to domestic emergencies. In fact, the Army National Guard provides 39 percent of the Army’s operating forces for 13 percent of the Army budget. Preserving this force structure will save billions of taxpayer dollars, preserve additional military capability and facilitate the retention of highly trained soldiers who would otherwise leave military service.
The proposed cuts to Army National Guard personnel and equipment also challenge key principles established by our Founding Fathers. Our forefathers established a Constitutional framework for the militia to ensure balance in our nation - that militia is the modern day National Guard. In Federalist Paper 41, Hamilton warns of “liberty everywhere crushed between standing armies and perpetual taxes.” George Washington’s “Sentiments on a Peace Establishment” raises similar concerns. Eisenhower also cautioned against military expansion and the military industrial complex.
Many of our nation’s leaders, both civilian and military, have recognized the value of a well-regulated and capable militia with strong ties to our communities. Unfortunately, it seems some leaders in Washington have lost sight of this sage advice and have proposed to pay the Sequestration bill by significantly reducing the Army National Guard to maintain a larger active Army.
This February, governors from across the nation called for a more realistic proposal that leverages the investment we have made throughout the past 13-plus years in a highly capable, multi-mission National Guard. Despite the strong opposition of our states’ commanders-in-chief, some in Washington continue to move forward with the proposed cuts. They should follow a similar path laid out by a congressionally mandated Commission that explored similar issues in the Air Force and ultimately recommended moving more capability and missions to the National Guard and Air Force Reserve.
As West Virginia’s Commander-In-Chief and Adjutant General, we stand together with West Virginia’s citizens and elected officials, at all levels, and continue to staunchly defend and support our National Guard because it has demonstrated time and again the highest levels of patriotism and professionalism. It is time for all West Virginians to join us and show support for the men and women of the Army National Guard and their families.
We call for a Commission on the future of the Army to provide Congress an independent, unbiased review on the appropriate balance of forces, essential to our Nation’s future security needs.
The Guard is a cost-effective operational force, vital to national security and our ability to respond to domestic emergencies. It provides the same protection and service as the active military at a fraction of the cost. We must have the right balance.
Let Congress know you support a proposal that recognizes the National Guard as a vital component of the Nation’s armed forces and the best value for America. The safety and security of West Virginia and our Nation depend upon it.