BISMARCK, N.D. —All 54 state and territory adjutants general of the nation’s National Guard have unanimously approved a letter to be sent to Capitol Hill, joining Gov. Jack Dalrymple and 48 other governors that signed a letter asking U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to reconsider a budget plan that calls for cuts in funding for the nation’s Air National Guard.
“We recognize that the Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force have difficult choices to make with regard to future budgeting,” Dalyrymple said. “However, the Air National Guard plays a critical role in our national defense and it should not have to bear an unfair amount of the reductions in aircraft or personnel. A sensible funding proposal is very important in North Dakota where we continue to work to retain a manned flying mission for the Air National Guard’s 119th Wing in Fargo.”
Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota National Guard adjutant general, said, “The cuts are very unfortunate in that they do not recognize the value to America of the National Guard. In 2005, through BRAC (Base Closure and Realignment Commission), a promise was made to North Dakota and the Air National Guard that the new C-27J Spartan cargo aircraft would replace the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft. The C-27J would support the Homeland Defense in North Dakota as well as the Global War on Terror abroad. A re-consideration must be made to the reduction of aircraft personnel and the missions of the Air Guard in the N.D. National Guard.”
The letter is addressed to the Senate Armed Service Committee and an identical letter will be sent to two more committees in the Senate the respective committees in the House.
The letter from the National Guard General’s states that while they strongly support the National Military Strategy recently announced by President Obama and Secretary of Defense Panetta, all have deep concerns with the Air Force’s fiscal 2013 budget request.
The letter from the nation’s adjutants general said, “The undersigned therefore request your support for an immediate comprehensive and inclusive review of the U.S. Air Force submission. Implementation of the Air Force 2013 budget request should be frozen pending the results of an open and transparent review process.”
The Air National Guard comprises 21% of the uniformed members of the total Air Force, however would bear 59% of the total aircraft cuts and approximately six times the per capita personnel cuts. “The Air National Guard has the highest experience levels in the total force, the lowest base operating expenses and by far the lowest life cycle costs The Guard is the only military component that can serve the President and our Governors and the only component underwritten by shared state-federal cost arrangements,” said the letter.
“America’s air power is ultimately derived not from a stealth fighter but from the Airmen who serve. To program 93% of Air National Guard personnel cuts in the first year of the budget is a breach of faith with our members and fails to preserve the significant investment in combat experience.”
Though national security threats at home and abroad have not diminished, fiscal constraints are forcing decreases in defense spending. The Department of Defense has been tasked with cutting at least $487 billion in defense spending over the next 10 years and the Air Force has been called upon to reduce its individual service expenditures.
The letter addresses the constraints, saying, “We understand tough choices about military force structure must be made to secure our nation’s future. We ask you in your constitutional role to prevent Air National Guard cut ... The analysis should include the results of Congressionally-directed studies currently underway that specifically focus on the proper force structure mix.”
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,800 Soldiers and more than 1,800 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Currently, about 275 North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas while more than 4,000 remain in the state for emergency response and national defense. For every 10,000 citizens in North Dakota, 65 serve in the North Dakota National Guard, a rate that’s more than four times the national average.