The Obameter

Ensure the Guard and Reserves can meet their homeland security missions

"The poor readiness of America's Guard and Reserve forces threatens our ability to respond to natural disasters or terrorist attacks at home. We saw this, sadly, after both Hurricane Katrina and the tornadoes in Kansas. Because of the depletion of its resources in Iraq, the National Guard is less ready today than it was on 9/11. Nearly 90 percent of units have serious equipment shortages; many have less than 1/3 of the equipment they require. A particular focus of Obama's plan will be to reverse the trend of "cross-leveling," the cannibalizing of soldiers and machines from units back home for missions abroad."


Congress compromises on equipment budget

On Dec. 19, 2009, Congress submitted a Defense appropriation bill to President Obama that included $950 million for National Guard and Reserve equipment, with $575 million specifically earmarked for the Army National Guard.

The money will be used to purchase aircraft, missiles, tracked combat vehicles, ammunition and other weapons.

Although this is a significant increase from the 2009 equipment budget of $750 million, it was well short of the $1.5 billion in the Senate version, an amount endorsed by the Reserve Officers Association, which represents officers of the military reserves.

"While the Reserve Officers Association is pleased with the recent $950 million National Guard and Reserve Equipment appropriation ... we are disappointed in the compromise that fell short of the Senate's proposal of $1.5 billion," said David W. Small, a spokesman for the Reserve Officers Association. "As President Obama prepares his budget request for next year, we hope he will consider the fact the Guard and Reserve cannot purchase some of their bigger ticket necessities without greater funding of this account."

We note that the White House's proposed 2010 budget did not include any money for that purpose.

According to Small, examples of some of the Guard and Reserve's "defined requirements" include cargo transport airplanes, trucks, aircraft tankers, cyber systems defense and an airlift airplane.

"Additionally, there are over 300 items needed by all the services for individual combat clothing and equipment including protective vests, ponchos, liners, gloves, cold weather clothing, environmental test sets, tool kits, tents, camouflage netting, communications systems, engineering equipment, combat and logistics vehicles and weapons," Small said.

Again, the National Guard and Reserve Budget is being increased this year thanks to a compromise reached between the House and Senate. However, the Reserve Officers Association supported the $1.5 billion sought by the Senate for new equipment, and says the compromise figure will not solve many of the equipment shortages faced by the National Guard and Reserves.

That may change in future years' budgets, but for now, we call this promise a Compromise.


Library of Congress, H.R.3326, Making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, and for other purposes

White House Office of Management and Budget Web site, White House's proposed 2010 budget for the Department of Defense -- Military

Interview with David W. Small, a spokesman for the Reserve Officers Association, Dec. 22, 2009