January 04, 2012

Stupid Things in the NDAA You Probably Missed

This is so incredibly dumb.

The National Guard Bureau’s top officer is now a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A provision in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law Dec. 31 by President Obama, adds the Guard leader to the nation’s highest military advisory group.


As of Tuesday, the biography of the current chief of the Guard, Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, was on the Joint Chiefs website, alongside bios for the other military service chiefs. ...


Before the authorization act was passed and signed into law, the Joint Chiefs was made up of the four service chiefs — the Army chief of staff, Air Force chief of staff, chief of naval operations and Marine Corps commandant — and a chairman and vice chairman appointed by the president.


During the Nov. 10 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the six four-star generals voiced opposition to the proposal, saying it would create needless confusion and reduce their authority.


“There is no compelling military need for this change,” Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said at the time.


Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also opposed the measure, telling reporters in October that membership on the Joint Chiefs should “be reserved for those who have direct command and direct budgets that deal with the military.”

Take it away, Jim Joyner:

So, the entire Joint Chiefs and the Secretary of Defense opposed this move and yet it was made anyway? Why? The article doesn’t say but, presumably, it’s because the Guard has an enormous amount of clout in Congress and because sympathy for the institution is at an all-time high after a decade of more-or-less continuous deployment.


But the opposition from the rest of the military establishment is perfectly reasonable, not simple turf protection.


Simply put: Either the Guard is a state militia that’s only part of the United States Military when called to national service–in which case it has no business on the Joint Staff–or it’s a part of the Total Force and therefore already represented on the Joint Staff by the Chiefs of Staff of the Army and Air Force. (There is no Navy or Marine Guard.)

What Jeff is trying to say is that the National Guard was already on the joint chiefs of staff. When the Guard is activited under Title X authority, it is represented on the joint chiefs by the Army and Air Force chiefs of staff. At all other times, the National Guard belongs to state governors. 

I have all the respect in the world for the men and women of the National Guard, but this is bad defense policy. It creates needless bureaucracy and confusion. And it makes one wonder how well the U.S. Congress in particular understands the legal roles and responsibilities of the U.S. military and its constituent organizations.