Alexander, Frist Cosponsor Resolution Seeking Consultation Between Pentagon and Congress on Guard Restructuring

Posted on January 30, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today announced that they have cosponsored a bipartisan U.S. Senate resolution supporting the National Guard and requesting that the Department of Defense seek input from Congress and governors when deciding future changes to the National Guard personnel. “The Tennessee National Guard is an effective, cost-efficient military force that has proven itself abroad in the War on Terror and at home in any number of domestic crises. Having visited with Guard members in Iraq and worked side-by-side with the National Guard during Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, I understand their important role in today’s military,” Frist said. “Reducing National Guard numbers during a time of war requires serious debate, and I believe the Department of Defense should work closely with Congress as it considers changes to our nation’s armed forces.” “More than 10,000 of the men and women of the Tennessee National Guard have served our country in Iraq and Afghanistan since September 11, 2001,” said Alexander. “They also serve a vital role in homeland security in Tennessee and neighboring states like Mississippi and Louisiana. We need these forces, and the Pentagon should talk to Congress and the nation’s governors before announcing any cutbacks.” During a January 19 meeting at the Pentagon, Alexander delivered a joint letter with Frist to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld expressing concerns that Pentagon plans to transform the National Guard could bring reductions in the number of Brigade Combat Teams, such as Tennessee’s 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Senate Resolution 355, authored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), expresses the Senate’s support for the vital missions of the Army and Air National Guards, including support of ongoing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and calls for the Department of Defense to: Fully fund the equipment needs of the National Guard; Consult with Congress and the nation’s governors as soon as possible on any proposed changes to the National Guard force structure; Consider the National Guard’s role in homeland defense when considering the National Guard’s force structure; Create budget projections that detail cost savings from any National Guard force structure changes, as well as projected costs in the event large personnel increases are necessary to respond to a homeland defense emergency, and; Ensure Congress and our nation’s governors that potential personnel cuts will not impact the safety and security of the American people.