Wes Hickman (202) 224-5972 or Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) yesterday introduced a bipartisan resolution supporting the National Guard and requesting the Department of Defense seek input from Congress and governors when deciding future changes to National Guard personnel and calling on the Pentagon to resolve equipment shortages. Graham and Nelson are the Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee.
“At this crucial time in our nation’s history, we are more dependent on the National Guard than ever,” said U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina). “Now is not the time to diminish the role the reserves play in the American military. I look forward to working with Senator Nelson, who has been a good friend to the National Guard, to ensure our reserve forces are properly structured.”
“The members of our National Guard aren’t ‘weekend warriors,’” said Senator Nelson. “They’re indispensable citizen-soldiers, airmen and airwomen who serve their country full-time when needed, and in return, I expect the Department of Defense to fully support the National Guard missions here and around the world.”
The National Guard has a unique role in defending the nation. Guard troops have a dual responsibility: to the nation and to their home states. The Department of Defense is proposing cuts in personnel levels for the Guard and the Guard is plagued by significant shortages of critical equipment.
The resolution calls for the Department of Defense to:
Fully fund the equipment needs of the National Guard;
Consult with Congress and the nation’s governors as soon as possible on any proposed changes to the National Guard force structure;
Consider the National Guard’s role in homeland defense when considering the National Guard’s force structure;
Create budget projections that detail cost savings from any National Guard force structure changes, as well as projected costs in the event large personnel increases are necessary to respond to a homeland defense emergency;
Ensure Congress and our nation’s governors that potential personnel cuts will not impact the safety and security of the American people.
The resolution arrives as the future of the National Guard is currently being determined by the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).
Despite and as a result of their significant work, the National Guard continues to experience equipment shortages. Last November, Senators Nelson, Graham and 40 other senators from both political parties sent President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld a letter urging them to fully fund the National Guard.
The guard is experiencing equipment deficiencies all over the country including shortages of humvees, rough terrain trucks, over-the-road tractors, wreckers, semi-trailers, communication equipment, and weapon mounts for trucks.
The resolution is supported by the National Guard Association of the United States.
Also, current co-sponsors of the bipartisan resolution include Senators: Ben Nelson (NE), Lindsey Graham (SC), George Allen (VA), Jim Talent (MO), Elizabeth Dole (NC), Olympia Snowe (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), John Thune (SD), Johnny Isakson (GA), Mike DeWine (OH), Tim Johnson (SD), Richard Durbin (IL), Robert Menendez (NJ), Mary Landrieu (LA), Bill Nelson (FL), Tom Harkin (IA), Byron Dorgan (ND), Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Jeff Bingaman (NM), Daniel Akaka (HI), Max Baucus (MT), Hillary Clinton (NY), Herb Kohl (WI), Barbara Mikulski (AK), Evan Bayh (IN), Maria Cantwell (WA), Mark Pryor (AR), Ken Salazar (CO), Joseph Lieberman (CT), Joseph Biden (DE), Kent Conrad (ND), Edward Kennedy (MA), Russell Feingold (WI), Susan Collins (ME), Norm Coleman (MN), and Lamar Alexander (TN).