As a U.S. House of Representatives committee today marks up a bill regarding the Air Force budget, Gov. Chris Gregoire issued the following statement, urging support for a proposed amendment to stop all proposed cuts next year to the Air National Guard:
"I understand and appreciate the need for the military to restructure and modernize in order to meet our new threats and new economic realities. But to cut the Air National Guard to the levels proposed is penny-wise and pound-foolish. Our Guard members provide incredible value to the U.S. military, and their experience and expertise is unmatched.
"The Air National Guard provides 35 percent of the total Air Force capabilities for only 6 percent of the Air Force budget. Yet under the recent budget proposal, the Air National Guard would assume 59 percent of the total Air Force reductions. This is unacceptable. For Washington state, this means the elimination of an entire Air National Guard unit now serving in Afghanistan, in addition to equipment and other personnel currently serving on both sides of our state.
"I have worked tirelessly with my fellow governors -- and will continue to do so to rectify this situation. While we have been loud with our opposition, Air Force leaders have remained unwilling to address state concerns. I commend the House members who have introduced an amendment to prevent these disproportionate cuts next year, and now call on Congress to take action to ensure our states and nation continue to have access to a cost-effective, reliable and highly trained Air National Guard."