Letter outlining top NGA priorities for Fiscal Year 2022 Defense Appropriations and for our National Guard.
The Honorable Betty McCollum Chair, Subcommittee on Defense House Committee on Appropriations H-405, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Jon Tester
Chairman, Subcommittee on Defense Senate Committee on Appropriations 122 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Ken Calvert
Ranking Member Subcommittee on Defense House Committee on Appropriations
H-405, The Capitol Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Richard Shelby
Vice Chairman, Subcommittee on Defense Senate Committee on Appropriations
122 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Chairwoman McCollum, Chairman Tester, Ranking Member Calvert and Vice Chairman Shelby:
On behalf of the National Governors Association (NGA), we write to you regarding our longstanding commitment to the readiness of our National Guard. Governors appreciate your continued support for National Guard equipment and manpower through annual congressional appropriations.
Our National Guard played a historic role in helping secure the peace; recover from natural disasters; and assist with COVID-19 response, testing and vaccinations. At its peak, the National Guard deployed more than 120,000 members at home and abroad supporting our nation’s needs. This could not be done without a strong state, territorial and federal partnership.
From wildfires to hurricanes, flooding and landslides, our nation continually calls on our National Guard, illustrating the importance of Guard equipment readiness. The past year underscores this point. The readiness of the National Guard is dependent upon continued investment and prioritization. As Congress looks toward the Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations process, NGA requests that youprioritize the following funding efforts in support of our National Guard:
Responding to Our Nation’s Needs: States and territories are at the forefront of health crises, and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is no exception. National Guard members are supporting COVID-19 operations, from assembling thousands of COVID-19 test kits to delivering ancillary kits that accompany vaccine doses. At the peak, nearly 47,000 National Guard members were assisting in COVID-19 response operations including supporting call centers, nursing homes and testing at long-term care facilities; virus screening; disinfecting schools, churches and shelters; and aiding in drive-through testing.
The Guard also was called upon by the federal government numerous times in 2020 and this year. More than 26,000 members were deployed from across the country to protect the U.S. Capitol and the surrounding area amid election-related unrest, and even more to help support state and territorial needs across the country. The Guard supported the protection of the Capitol for five months, with the mission just recently completed.
However, the chief of the National Guard Bureau last month noted to Congress that the prolonged D.C. mission, costing more than $520 million, will detrimentally impact training and drill weekends for our Guard over the summer if not reimbursed by Congress.
NGA requests increased funding for Title 32 operations via National Guard personnel and operations and maintenance accounts, as well as funding the use of hazardous duty incentive pay for all COVID-19-related missions.
Modernized Equipment: New and well-maintained vehicles and aircraft ensure greater reliability, more efficiency and most importantly, readiness for life-saving missions at a moment’s notice. Guard domestic operations include the use of helicopters, cargo aircraft such as C-130s, medical evacuation aircraft and numerous vehicles, especially Humvees. This equipment is essential to every disaster relief and public safety mission our states and territories must undertake daily, while also utilized in overseas missions to support the Total Force.
Congress has been instrumental in funding efforts to help modernize C-130s, F-15s, F-16s, Blackhawks and Humvees in the past. Specifically, the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account (NGREA) remains a top priority for Governors and our adjutants general. The readiness of the National Guard is dependent upon this continued funding.
NGA supports continued investment in NGREA to help modernize National Guard equipment, to include backfilling last year’s reprogrammed funding. This will ensure an operational and ready National Guard that canrespond to missions both at home and overseas.
Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA): NGA requests that Congress provide increased funds to Guard accounts to help identify, test and remediate these contaminants at military installations.
Full-Time Support Positions for the National Guard: Governors and our adjutants general continue to support the growth of National Guard personnel end-strength and the increase of full-time support (FTS) positions. Specifically, the Army National Guard (ARNG) is manned at nearly 58,000 FTS personnel, which translates to only 64 percent of the established 90,000 FTS requirement, falling far short of the other reserve components.
Without an increase, Governors remained concerned about the Guard’s ability to maintain a level of readiness that achieves both operational requirements and our immediate response needs in the states and territories.
NGA requests Congress provide adequate personnel funding to support growth in FTS positions for the National Guard, specifically the Army National Guard.
Counterdrug Program: States and territories across the country benefit from the National Guard counterdrug program, which helps to support drug interdiction efforts and assists local law enforcement agencies. This critical program encourages continued state-federal partnerships.
NGA encourages Congress to ensure stable and predictable funding to support growth of the National Guard counterdrug program.
Thank you for your continued support of these top NGA priorities for Fiscal Year 2022 Defense Appropriations and for our National Guard.
Governor Ned Lamont Connecticut
NGA Pandemic and Disaster Response Task Force
Governor Bill Lee Tennessee
NGA Pandemic and Disaster Response Task Force