Protecting Pilots

National Guard Bureau Chief Army Gen. Frank Grass said sequestration and budget uncertainty is the greatest threat facing the Guard today. Speaking during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Feb. 13, Grass said he is particularly worried about pilots and the National Guard’s ability to respond to natural disasters in the United States. “I’m very concerned about our pilots, especially our rotor-wing pilots who do search-and-rescue every day across this country somewhere,” said Grass, who testified alongside the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and several Pentagon civilian leaders on the impact of sequestration. He added, “As you degrade the experience level, the flying hours, and the opportunities to go to some of the most difficult places to train, like the high-altitude training center in Colorado, our pilots are going to be less qualified.” Grass told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee the day before that it would only take “a matter of months” for the Guard’s readiness to “erode,” if sequestration is implemented on March 1. (Grass’ prepared statement)