Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

The Obameter

Make National Guard leader a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff


"Too often, top-level military decisions, which impact the National Guard, are made without its input. Obama cosponsored legislation to elevate the Chief of the National Guard to the rank of four-star general and make the chief a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military advisory panel to the president. As president, Obama will sign this legislation into law."


Updates

Now it's a fact

In his presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to sign into law a bill that he had previously co-sponsored to "elevate the chief of the National Guard to the rank of four-star general and make the chief a member of the joint chiefs of Staff” into law.

We"ve previously rated this promise Stalled, as the first part of the promise, to elevate the National Guard chief to the rank four-star general, had been kept before Obama was elected while the second half was still pending. The National Guard chief's elevation in rank made law on Jan. 28, 2008 when President George W. Bush signed the National Defense Authorization Act.

At the time of our last review we reported that adding the head of the National Guard to the Joint Chiefs of Staff had not been recommended by the Commission on National Guard and Reserves.

When Obama signed the fiscal year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act on Dec. 31, 2011, the situation changed. It included promotion of the National Guard"s senior officer to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"We look forward to working alongside the other Joint Chiefs to provide our nation"s senior leaders with a fuller picture of the non-federalized National Guard as it serves in support of homeland defense and civil support missions,” said Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, in a story in the military publication Air Force Print News Today, noting the Guard's addition.

That addition completes the two part promise from Obama"s campaign. We rate this Promise Kept.

Sources:

Air Force Print News Today, National Guard"s senior officer elevated to Joint Chiefs of Staff, Jan. 3, 2012

No move to make National Guard leader a member of the Joint Chiefs

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to follow through on legislation he co-sponsored as a senator that would "elevate the chief of the National Guard to the rank of four-star general and make the chief a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff."

Part of that promise was implemented before he became president, and part has not advanced.

The part that was implemented was to bump up the National Guard chief to four-star general rank, rather than three-star. That shift -- recommended by the Commission on National Guard and Reserves in its report to Congress on March 1, 2007 -- was made law on Jan. 28, 2008, when President George W. Bush signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008.

The part that was not implemented was to place the Guard chief on the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- something that the commission did not recommend.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sept. 15, 2009, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Michael Mullen, said that he continued to believe that the position should not be elevated to the Joint Chiefs.

"The Joint Chiefs of Staff consists of the chairman, vice chairman and the chiefs of staff of the armed services," Mullen said. "The National Guard is a component of the armed services and is represented on the Joint Chiefs of Staff by the chiefs of staff of the Army and Air Force. A separate representation of a portion of the reserve components from a portion of the services would be inappropriate, and in my view divisive of a Total Force. As a four-star general officer, the [Guard chief] is already participating in all appropriate JCS Tank sessions when domestic issues, which fall under the purview of our National Guard, are involved. This is similar to the methodology used to include the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard when specific Coast Guard equities are involved. In addition, if I am confirmed, the [Guard chief] will continue to have full access to the upper echelons of the Joint Staff and me."

We were unable to locate any legislation that would elevate the position to the Joint Chiefs. So we rate this promise Stalled.

Sources:

THOMAS, bill summary page for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, accessed Dec. 20, 2009

CQ Congressional Testimony, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sept. 15, 2009, accessed via Nexis