Letter to DOD on Maintaining Governor Authority of National Guard

“National Guard assets are critical components of states’ and territories’ responses to crises. Governors must maintain full authority as Commanders in Chief of these assets to effectively protect operational readiness and America’s communities.”

The Honorable Lloyd J. Austin, III
Secretary of Defense
United States Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Dear Secretary Austin:

As Governors representing 53 states and territories, we are writing to express our strong opposition to Legislative Proposal 480 (LP480) submitted by the Department of Defense to the Senate Armed Services Committee. This legislation disregards gubernatorial authorities regarding the National Guard and undermines over 100 years of precedent as well as national security and military readiness.

Ensuring the National Guard is adequately equipped with resources and capabilities to serve as the operational combat reserve for national security missions and to support domestic emergencies is among the National Governors Association’s highest priorities. It is imperative that Governors retain the authority laid out in United States Code (U.S.C.) Title 32, Section 104. LP480 undercuts this critical authority by allowing a transfer of covered space units from the National Guard to the United States Space Force without abiding by Title 32 or Title 10.

Specifically, section 18238 of Title 10 states that there should be no removal or withdrawal of a unit of the Air National Guard without consultation and approval from Governors. Additionally, section 104 of Title 32 states there is to be no change in the branch, organization, or allotment of National Guard units within a state or territory without the approval of its Governor.

For over a century, Title 10 and Title 32 of U.S.C have upheld gubernatorial authority over the National Guard. National Guard assets are critical components of states’ and territories’ responses to crises. Governors must maintain full authority as Commanders in Chief of these assets to effectively protect operational readiness and America’s communities. Legislation that sidesteps, eliminates or otherwise reduces Governors’ authority within their states and territories undermines longstanding partnerships, precedence, military readiness and operational efficacy. This action also negatively affects the important relationships between Governors and DOD at a time when we need to have full trust and confidence between the two to meet the growing threats posed by the era of strategic competition as well as natural disasters.  LP480 also poses a threat to the careers of state-based service members who will be forced to choose between state service or continuing in their current field at a time when there are already significant recruitment challenges. An action like this will violate the trust of the brave women and men who have volunteered to serve our states and our nation.

Governors look forward to collaborating with congressional leaders and federal officials to ensure strong national security. Our top priority is the success of critical national security missions, both at home and abroad, which necessitates protecting Governors’ rights to lead as Commanders in Chiefs. Any federal efforts or legislative actions intended to disregard or weaken these authorities will negatively impact our ability to serve the nation and deeply damage the relationship between states and the federal government.          

For these reasons, we urge you to oppose LP480. Thank you again for your attention to this critical matter.     


Governor Spencer Cox
State of Utah
Chair, National Governors Association

Governor Jared Polis
State of Colorado
Vice Chair, National Governors Association

Governor Kay Ivey
State of Alabama

Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga
American Samoa

Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders
State of Arkansas

Governor Ned Lamont
State of Connecticut

Governor Brian Kemp
State of Georgia

Governor Josh Green, M.D.
State of Hawaii

Governor JB Pritzker
State of Illinois

Governor Kim Reynolds
State of Iowa

Governor Andy Beshear
State of Kentucky

Governor Janet Mills
State of Maine

Governor Maura Healey
State of Massachusetts

Governor Tim Walz
State of Minnesota

Governor Mike Parson
State of Missouri

Governor Jim Pillen
State of Nebraska

Governor Chris Sununu
State of New Hampshire

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham
State of New Mexico

Governor Roy Cooper
State of North Carolina

Governor Arnold Palacios
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

Governor Kevin Stitt
State of Oklahoma

Governor Josh Shapiro
State of Pennsylvania

Governor Dan McKee
State of Rhode Island

Governor Kristi Noem
State of South Dakota

Governor Albert Bryan
U.S. Virgin Islands

Governor Glenn Youngkin
State of Virginia

Governor Jim Justice
State of West Virginia

Governor Mark Gordon
State of Wyoming

Governor Mike Dunleavy
State of Alaska

Governor Katie Hobbs
State of Arizona

Governor Gavin Newsom
State of California

Governor John Carney
State of Delaware

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero

Governor Brad Little
State of Idaho

Governor Eric Holcomb
State of Indiana

Governor Laura Kelly
State of Kansas

Governor Jeff Landry
State of Louisiana

Governor Wes Moore
State of Maryland

Governor Gretchen Whitmer
State of Michigan

Governor Tate Reeves
State of Mississippi

Governor Greg Gianforte
State of Montana

Governor Joe Lombardo
State of Nevada

Governor Phil Murphy
State of New Jersey

Governor Kathy Hochul
State of New York

Governor Doug Burgum
State of North Dakota

Governor Mike DeWine
State of Ohio

Governor Tina Kotek
State of Oregon

Governor Pedro Pierluisi
Puerto Rico

Governor Henry McMaster
State of South Carolina

Governor Bill Lee
State of Tennessee

Governor Phil Scott
State of Vermont

Governor Jay Inslee
State of Washington

Governor Tony Evers
State of Wisconsin