U.S. Rep. Candice Miller (R-10) led 14 of her Michigan colleagues this week in raising concerns to House and Senate Armed Services Committees regarding proposed cuts to the Air National Guard under the Air Force's 2013 budget.
"Everyone understands the need to find cost efficiencies the military budget, but it is troubling that the Air Force would choose to find those savings by making such dramatic cuts to the most cost effective segment of the Air Force, the Air National Guard," Miller said, in a prepared statement. "Michigan’s entire U.S. House delegation is unified against these cuts to the Air National Guard and will continue our efforts to turn them back.”
Led by Miller, Michigan's 15 U.S. representatives signed a letter this week voicing these concerns to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. One of the key concerns noted in the letter is why the Air National Guard, which represents 35 percent of the Air Force’s air capability and only 6 percent of the cost, was asked to absorb 59 percent of the budget cuts in total air craft.
The following is the text of the letter signed by Michigan's representatives:
Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members:
We write to you today to express our grave concern with the Air Force’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget request. From the earliest moments in our nation’s history, the citizen militia has responded at a moment’s notice to defend the nation. Well before we had a large standing army, citizen-soldiers provided the bulk of our armed forces when the nation went to war. Today, the National Guard continues the tradition of the minuteman, ready to serve both the Governor of their individual states for homeland defense, disaster recovery and other state missions as well as train and prepare for combat at the call of the President.
Since September 11th, the National Guard has stood shoulder to shoulder with their active duty counterparts, which enabled the country to prosecute two wars simultaneously. They have served with distinction in Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, as well as Operation Odyssey Dawn.
Without question, this nation would not have been able to maintain the high operational tempo required to support those operations without the infusion of manpower and assets from Guard units around the nation. In countless instances, men and women of the Guard willingly volunteered to take the fight to the enemy – and many have made the ultimate sacrifice.
It is no secret that the nation’s fiscal situation is dire; cost efficiencies must be found and waste and duplication must be reduced in every department and program across the Department of Defense. We are under no illusion that tough choices will have to be made; however, we find it troubling that the Air National Guard which currently represents 35% of our air capability while using only 6% of the budget is being asked to absorb 59% of the total aircraft cuts in the effort to reduce costs.
If the proposed budget is truly about saving tax-payer dollars, it seems incomprehensible that the overwhelming majority of airpower reductions should come from the Air National Guard when they are more cost effective than their active duty counterparts. At a minimum, we believe that a delay in any decision be made until the studies currently underway are completed to fully understand the delicate balance between cost savings and the preservation of combat capabilities.
We are cognizant of the need for shared sacrifice across the nation and among the active duty, Guard and reserve components of the Air Force, but we fully believe that such sacrifice be shared proportionally and after a sober assessment of the cost implications. The impact on the Air National Guard generally across this country and to Michigan’s National Guard specifically is not “shared sacrifice;” rather Michigan takes a disproportionate cut and stands to lose over 800 jobs statewide according to the projections from the Air Force. Air Guard units in many other states are also affected in a way which severely diminish their capabilities. This is why 49 Governors and every Adjutant General from each of the 54 states and territories have stood up against these cuts and asked us to chart a different course.
We respectfully ask you to delay in any decision until the appropriate analysis can be completed.
Candice S. Miller, Tim Walberg, Dan Benishek, John D. Dingell, John Conyers, Jr., Dale E. Kildee, Sander M. Levin, Fred Upton, Dave Camp, Mike Rogers, Thaddeus McCotter, Gary Peters, Hansen Clarke, Bill Huizenga, Justin Amash