WASHINGTON—Today the co-chairs of the Council of Governors, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, released a statement on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report.
“We appreciate the Armed Services Committees including language in the final NDAA that would expand access to Tricare to members of the National Guard who serve on 12304(b) mobilization orders. This has been a concern for governors, as we believe we must ensure our Guardsmen and women are afforded the same benefits as those federal forces they serve with overseas.”
Additionally, Section 333 would establish an annual report on personnel, training and equipment needs of the non-federalized National Guard. The language requires that the chief of the National Guard Bureau consult with the Council of Governors as the report is being drafted.
“This report will help ensure that the states provide valuable input into the requirement process at the Department of Defense. Considering the wide-scale response efforts of the National Guard during this year’s hurricane and firefighting seasons, it is critical that these mission needs are addressed in the Department’s budget and requirements process.”
The final NDAA retained Senate language regarding the conversion of dual status military technicians. Governors as well as the Council sent multiple letters to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees objecting to a provision of the FY16 NDAA requiring that 20 percent of dual-status military technicians be converted to federal civilian employees. Governors stressed their grave concerns that the scope of that conversion would impair Guard readiness and responsiveness, and requested the lowest possible percentage rate for conversion. The House language would have required a 4.8 percent conversion whereas the Senate put forward 12.6 percent.
“As commanders-in-chief of our respective National Guards, we appreciate the acknowledgement on the part of the committees that their original mandate to convert 20 percent was misguided. However, governors would have preferred that the final conversion figure reflect our warning, as well as that of our Adjutants General and the Department of Defense, that a conversion greater than 4.8 percent would unnecessarily impair Guard readiness and responsiveness. This has been a critical issue for governors and we remain concerned. We are optimistic that the new annual reporting requirement will help to ensure that the vital input of governors and Adjutants General will be included in the decision-making process going forward.”
Congress passed the conference report this week. It now heads to the President for signature.
The Council of Governors 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. It consists of 10 governors appointed by the President–five from each party–with two governors serving as co-chairs. For more nformation on the Council of Governors, click here.