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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KEATING. In the important debate to save National Guard units, we made some steps forward in this bill and, unfortunately, also took steps backward. Many in the Chamber may assume that all the National Guard units were restored in the markup of this bill. That's simply not the case.

A vital and unique group of Air National Guard units, known as C-NAFs, have a full-time mission to support Active Duty bases. These augmentation units take on a large chunk of the workload while only accounting for a small percentage of the mission's workforce--and the work is all done domestically. In and of itself, that provides a higher degree of security because there are discrete sites that are isolated and more easily secured here in the United States. These units were created because they're cost effective, and eliminating them will result in unfinished business, displaced costs and, perhaps the most alarming of all consequences, endangered lives.

To illustrate, the 102nd Air Operations Group at Otis Air National Guard Base works 24/7 365 days of the year to conduct 30 percent of the Air Force Global Strike Command's surveillance mission, and only accounts for 10 percent of the Command's workforce--30 percent of the mission and 10 percent of the Command's workforce. The 102nd Air Operations Group's counterparts at Barksdale Air Base in Louisiana rely on these great men and women to examine realtime footage and spot out threats.

When I talk about consequences, including the endangering of lives, the work of this unit has helped our servicemen and -women avoid concealed insurgents on the battlefield, and it tracks the proliferation of nuclear weapons as these events are occurring. It has the backs of our soldiers in the field, and it affords its own level of defense against nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, the Air Force is only now realizing the impact of this loss.

I apologize for all of the acronyms that are here, but I wanted to take the actual slide from the Air Force's presentation. This slide is from May 2. It is an Air Force briefing to Lieutenant General Herbert Carlisle, deputy chief of staff for operations for the Air Force.

It proves that units like the 102nd AOG are essential. According to this slide, which is only 2 weeks old, the 102nd Air Operations Group is ``essential to the U.S. Strategic Command's time-sensitive planning mission,'' and the impact of losing this unit will render the Air Force ``unable to fully support extended time-sensitive scenarios.''

Furthermore, the Air Force reiterates that without the 102nd Air Operations Group, the mission of the Global Strike Command will not be supported, and the Rapid Assessment Team currently in place at Barksdale cannot take on more surveillance duties without the 102nd AOG.

But perhaps the most glaring piece of information on this slide is on the last line, which simply states:

The National Guard Bureau did not coordinate this cut with USSTRATCOM, Global Strike Command and the 8th Air Force.

Mr. Chairman, clearly, even the Air Force knows that a big mistake was made in the decision to eliminate these Guard units. My amendment simply freezes cuts to the Air National Guard units to support the Air Force until the impact of the unit's loss is determined and reported to Congress. This language leaves room to sort out the units that are essential to our national security and to cut where duplicative missions exist. For these reasons, I urge all of my colleagues to vote in favor of this amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.


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