Governors: Defense Authorization Modification Essential to Preserve National Guard

WASHINGTON—As Congress returns from recess and looks to pass the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the National Governors Association (NGA) expresses its strong support for legislation that would allow the National Guard to preserve its readiness through the Military Technician program.

National Guard dual-status military technicians are full-time, federally funded uniformed employees of the state military department who serve as their governor’s immediate response force in times of emergency such as tornadoes, floods, wildfires and civil disturbances.

As enacted in the 2016 NDAA, current law requires 20 percent of all military technicians be converted to federal civilian employees by Oct. 1, 2017. That conversion will seriously disrupt National Guard domestic operations by significantly reducing the number of military technicians available to respond.

Legislation introduced in the House and Senate (H.R. 1777 and S. 766) modernizes the Military Technician program while minimizing the impact of conversion. Perhaps more important, it sets a new conversion target—4.8 percent—the level recommended by the Department of Defense in December.

“National guard military technicians are absolutely essential when it comes to keeping our country safe,” said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, co-chair of the Council of Governors, which serves as a mechanism for governors and key federal officials to address matters pertaining to the National Guard, homeland defense and defense support to civil authorities. “When no-notice emergency situations occur, governors call on military technicians as our primary source of immediate manpower.”

“Governors strongly support legislation introduced by Sen. Joe Manchin and Rep. Ralph Lee Abraham to modify and modernize this critically important program,” said Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, co-chair of the Council of Governors. “The 20 percent conversion seriously undermines our ability as state executives to respond quickly to emergencies and to keep our citizens safe. We hope Congress will hear us and resolve this critically important issue.”