After the busiest year since the Second World War, the National Guard is depleted of funds and needs Congressional assistance, or its summer training activities will be in jeopardy.
Part of the reason for the Guard’s empty coffers is the more than $500 million it spent over five months protecting the Capitol grounds after pro-Trump rioters attacked the legislature.
National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Daniel Hokanson told lawmakers in May that the military component was hurting for funds.
“The key here is that we will really need assistance with that by the middle of May, and if we don’t receive the funding by the first of August, it could have a significant impact on our readiness and maintenance across the force,” Hokanson said.
That May funding didn’t happen, though the House did squeak by a $1.9 billion supplemental that would have reimbursed the Guard.
On Tuesday, top Army officials upped the ante on the urgency for National Guard dollars.
“The Army Guard is basically in a situation where they are concerned about their ability to pay for training for the rest of this year,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. Without those resources the Guard, in states all around the country, will find themselves with training issues that are going to affect their aviation readiness and their ability to have readiness with their ground vehicles.”
Wormuth said the Guard will also have to cancel training exercises that were put off because of the COVID response and other missions. Those cancellations would likely be through the months of July, August and September.
The National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) said Guard leaders will begin notifying soldiers and airmen of potential cancellations if funding is not assured by July 1.
NGAUS issued a list of likely cuts if funding is not secured by Aug. 1:
- Canceling unexecuted 15-day annual training and/or August/September drills for Army Guard units;
- Canceling more than 2,000 functional and occupational schools for Army Guard soldiers, impacting individual and unit readiness and career progression opportunities;
- Curtailing Army Guard ground vehicle maintenance activities and halting all training vehicle movement until fiscal 2022, which will lead to declining operational readiness rates that would be unlikely to recover for 8-12 months;
- Halting more than 75 Army Guard armory and training site projects, including 48 readiness center projects;
- Curtailing Army Guard rotary-wing aircraft maintenance and restricting flying, which will lead to declining operational readiness across all aviation formations that would be unlikely to recover for 10-14 months;
- Decreasing support to recruiting and retention efforts, which could potentially impact fourth quarter end strength;
- Grounding the entire Air National Guard fleet for eight days;
- Deferring Air Guard formal school training until fiscal 2022; and
- Canceling or deferring critical fire suppression system repair and replacement projects in Maryland, Minnesota and the U.S. Virgin Islands
At its peak, 26,000 guardsmen responded to the Capitol mission, which ended on May 26.
The emergency supplemental passed by the House reimburses the Guard, DC and other federal agencies for their response to the attack and continued presence.
The spending bill has not been taken up in the Senate.