Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), House Armed Services Committee chairman, reached out to the nation’s governors, seeking their “insight” into a “troubling set of defense cuts that will hit the National Guard” if the Budget Control Act’s sequestration clause takes effect in January. Sequestration would result in more than 200,000 soldiers and marines getting separated from service, a 20-percent reduction in defense civilian personnel, and two additional rounds of BRAC, stated McKeon in an April 30 letter to the National Governors Association. “Of particular concern to the committee is the potential impact of sequester to the Army and Air National Guard,” he wrote. The letter comes as the Pentagon, Congress, and the governors continue to work on a compromise to the Air Force leadership’s proposed elimination of 5,100 Air Guard positions, along with Air Guard fighters and airlifters, in Fiscal 2013. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he was willing to maintain some of the Air Guard C-130s targeted for retirement, a step many lawmakers believed was a move in the right direction, but not quite good enough. “You have my commitment to make sure your concerns are considered during Congress’ legislative efforts this year,” McKeon wrote the governors.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.