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Neighbors Growing Together | May 24, 2017

Governors seek National Guard modification

Apr 26, 2017

By Rod Boshart, Gazette Des Moines Bureau

 

WASHINGTON — The nation’s governors Tuesday issued a statement urging Congress to consider modification of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act to allow the National Guard to preserve its readiness through the Military Technician program.

National Guard dual-status military technicians are full-time, federally funded uniformed employees of the state military department who serve as their governor’s immediate response force in times of emergency such as tornadoes, floods, wildfires and civil disturbances, according to the National Governors Association statement.

Current law requires 20 percent of all military technicians be converted to federal civilian employees by Oct. 1, 2017, according to the governors. That conversion will seriously disrupt National Guard domestic operations by significantly reducing the number of military technicians available to respond, they say.

Federal legislation introduced in the House and Senate (H.R. 1777 and S. 766) modernizes the Military Technician program while minimizing the impact of conversion, the NGA said in a news release. Also, it sets a new conversion target—4.8 percent—the level recommended by the Department of Defense in December.

“National guard military technicians are absolutely essential when it comes to keeping our country safe,” said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, co-chair of the Council of Governors, which serves as a mechanism for governors and key federal officials to address matters pertaining to the National Guard, homeland defense and defense support to civil authorities. “When no-notice emergency situations occur, governors call on military technicians as our primary source of immediate manpower.”

Connecticut Gov. Daniel Malloy, also a co-chair of the Council of Governors, said the nation’s governors “strongly support” legislation introduced by Sen. Joe Manchin and Rep. Ralph Lee Abraham to modify and modernize this critically important program.

“The 20 percent conversion seriously undermines our ability as state executives to respond quickly to emergencies and to keep our citizens safe,” Malloy added. “We hope Congress will hear us and resolve this critically important issue.”

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