Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act

Floor Speech

By:  Lindsey Graham
Date: Feb. 9, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GRAHAM. Madam President, I appreciate the opportunity to engage in this colloquy.

As cochairman of the Guard Caucus, which obviously has the Air National Guard Component, Senator Leahy has been a real pleasure to work with.

The bottom line is, this effort to downsize the Air Force falls incredibly heavy on the Air National Guard. There will be 3,000 Active-Duty members lost regarding the plan he just mentioned, 5,000 coming from the Air National Guard. The airframes to be eliminated in the plans Senator Leahy just mentioned fall disproportionately on the Air National Guard. In just a moment, we are going to talk about the bang for your buck in terms of the Reserve component called the Air National Guard, and we are going to challenge the Congress and the Department of Defense to reconsider this because, quite frankly, it makes no military or fiscal sense.

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Mr. GRAHAM. The Senator is absolutely right. When we look at the utilization of the Guard and Reserve since 9/11, it has been at World War II levels. When we go into the combat theater, we can't tell the difference between Guard, Reserve or Active-Duty member, which is a testament to all three.

But when we look at what the Air Force is doing--and I think it is proper to consider the other services--the Marine Corps is making no reduction to their Reserves. The Army is making very small cuts in the Guard and Reserves and substantial cuts to the Active Forces. The Army and Marine Corps plans support the new strategic concept of reversibility; that is, the part of the Department of Defense strategic guidance. We cannot be sure what contingencies might arise, and we cannot afford to make cuts that will leave us incapable of responding when necessary.

Secretary Flournoy, during her last speech to the Defense for Policy, stated that ``the Guard and the Reserves will play an extremely important role'' in the reversibility concept because they give the military built-in adaptability and resourcefulness. This reversibility concept is what we are doing to reduce the defense infrastructure. If it were ever reversed or had to be reversed because of some contingency, we want to make sure that is possible. The Guard and Reserve is the most capable force to maintain and, in terms of the concept of reversibility, is our best bang for the buck.

So the Air Force is taking a different approach than the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps to their Reserve component, particularly their Air National Guard. I think Senator Leahy and I are going to make sure that decision is examined in-depth.

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Mr. GRAHAM. Senator Leahy is right. When we look at our Constitution itself, it talks about a militia. When we look at the history of the country, it is the citizen soldier who got this whole concept called America started.

We do need a standing Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. But when we are looking at the budget problems we face and the fiscal concerns we have as a nation and we want to restructure the military, I will be talking in just a minute about why we should be looking for a greater role from the Guard and Reserve just from economics. But when it comes to military capability, I think we have the best of both worlds now: a very efficient, quite frankly, cheaper force to maintain with very similar, if not like, capabilities. We don't want to let that concept be eroded by a plan that I think doesn't appreciate the role of the militia and doesn't appreciate the cost-benefit analysis from a robust Reserve component.

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Mr. GRAHAM. What I am about to provide to the body, I think we need to absorb and be aware of.

This study that Senator Leahy is talking about, an analysis of the effectiveness and cost, is an ongoing endeavor. I would like to know more about what the study yields before we make what I think are pretty Draconian cuts in the Air National Guard.

But this is what we know before the study. This information is already in: According to an Air Guard briefing, the Air National Guard, operating under today's deployment constraints, is still 53 percent of the cost of an equivalent Active-Duty major command. The Air National Guard costs $2.25 billion less annually than a similarly sized Active Air Force command. That is $6.2 million a day in savings.

After 20 years of service, our average enlisted airman costs nearly $80,000 a year in total compensation. On the other hand, an identical Air National Guard enlisted airman costs about $10,000 a year, about an 85-percent savings.

Over a 20-year career, an Air National Guard airman will save the country about $1 million compared to an active-duty airman. At 22 years, an active-duty pilot will cost about $150,000 in compensation. On the other hand, an Air National Guard pilot at 22 years costs the taxpayers about $30,000 in total compensation. Over a 26-year career, an Air National Guard pilot will save the country nearly $2 million compared to an active-duty pilot.

Active-duty pilots retire on average with 22 years of service. Air National Guard pilots retire with an average of 26 years of experience, giving the country a greater level of experience and ability for those final 4 years, at a much lower cost. These cost figures do not even account for other life cycle and infrastructure savings that a Reserve component-first model would yield.

These are stunning numbers without the study to fully be accomplished. We are going to do our best, I say to Senator Leahy, to tell the story of capability and cost.

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Mr. GRAHAM. I look forward to working with Senator Leahy and others to bring about what he indicated to make it a reality. The bottom line of this whole discussion is that the Cold War is over. We are very proud of our standing military, our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard--they do a terrific job, the standing military. The militia component has been the heart and soul of this country since its founding and in a post-Cold War war on terrorism environment where you have to call on resources that the Guard and Reserve have that are unique--like civil affairs. When you are going into Afghanistan and Iraq, it is one thing to clear the village; you have to hold the village. You have to hold it. Agricultural specialists come from the Guard and Reserve, people from Vermont and South Carolina who have skills in their day job, who can do more in the war effort than dropping a bomb.

As we look at the threats we face, I think we need to understand the Reserve component is more valuable than ever. We are not defending the Fulda Gap against a massive Soviet Union tank invasion. We have to be nimble, we have to deploy quickly. The Reserve component, particularly the Air National Guard, has a great return on investment and, like any other part of the military, can be reformed. But this proposal doesn't reform it; it in many ways neuters the Air National Guard and at a time when that makes no sense. We will continue this endeavor, and I look forward to working with Senator Leahy and others to create a rational approach to the Reserve and Guard.

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