U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons praised the Senate's adoption Monday night of legislation that would give the Chief of the National Guard Bureau a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and give the Guard a stronger voice in military planning. The measure was offered as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act currently being considered by the Senate. Senators Carper and Coons cosponsored the amendment.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff -- the President's top defense planning advisors -- are responsible for preparing our nation's defense against threats from foreign nations and non-state actors, like terrorists, but currently lack a member designated to integrate the unique abilities of the National Guard, such as counterdrug or chemical terrorism response. By making the Chief of the National Guard a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, this amendment will more closely align the Pentagon's planning process with the threats our nation is likely to face.
"As an 18-year veteran of Delaware's Air National Guard, as well as the former Commander in Chief of Delaware's National Guard, I know first-hand the dedication and sacrifices our National Guard members make every day," Senator Carper said. "The devoted men and women of our National Guard play a critical role in supporting our military and our state. As national security challenges, as well as natural and man-made disasters, continue to test our state and nation, we now ask more of the Guard and its members than ever before. These additional responsibilities and enhanced strategic role underscore the need for the National Guard to be a full partner with the other military branches, including maintaining representation as part of the Joint Chiefs of Staff."
"As our nation's military evolves to confront new threats to our country, so too must the administrative infrastructure in the Pentagon," Senator Coons said. "The National Guard brings highly specialized skills to our national defense that ought to be part of the Pentagon's long-term planning process. Our nation needs the Guard to have a seat at the table. After cosponsoring the Guardians of Freedom Act in March, I actively pressed my colleagues to support the measure, and am pleased the Senate has come together in a bipartisan way to adopt it. "
Major General Frank Vavala, the Adjutant General of Delaware's National Guard and Chairman of the Board of the National Guard Association of the United States, praised the bill's passage: "We are elated and greatly appreciate the support for this long overdue initiative. This action shows our elected officials value the contributions of the National Guard and it is one step closer to giving 470,000 Soldiers and Airmen a voice when our military leaders are making decisions."
A vote on the National Defense Authorization Act is expected in the Senate Wednesday. The already-passed House version of the National Defense Authorization Act also included the National Guard measure.