The Senate voted to give the National Guard Bureau chief a permanent seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, despite unanimous opposition from the current sitting Chiefs, their Chairman, and vice chairman. Senators approved the measure—an amendment added to the Senate’s version of the Fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill (S.1867) still being finalized—by voice vote late Monday. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Senate National Guard Caucus co-chairs, introduced the provision, which had some 70 co-sponsors. “The Senate vote last night was a long-overdue recognition and fitting tribute for our citizen-soldiers and the sacrifices they have made on behalf of our nation,” said Graham in a release Tuesday. “They have earned a seat at the table where our most important military decisions are made.” Leahy, in a separate release, said, “at home and abroad, we are asking the Guard to take on more responsibilities than ever.” The vote, he added, will help to “give the Guard a voice in the Pentagon that befits the scale of its missions here and overseas.” In May, the House approved similar language in its version of the defense authorization bill.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.