The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 8, 2012

Rahall wants Guard budget maintained

— A move is afoot on Capitol Hill by the Air Force to trim the budget of the West Virginia Air National Guard, affecting both its structure and manpower, and Rep. Nick Rahall says this would be a mistake.

The proposed cuts are part of on-going budget talks over defense spending and were contained in the Air Force’s suggested spending for the coming fiscal year.

“I am dedicated to making certain our citizen soldiers have the training, equipment and resources they need to fulfill their missions,” Rahall, D-W.Va., said Friday.

“At a time when our military faces intense pressures due to multiple deployments abroad and federal budget austerity at home, I intend to keep fighting to ensure that the West Virginia National Guard has the resources and support it needs to remain a model of excellence,” Rahall said.

A senior member of the National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus, he sign-ed a bipartisan, bicameral letter to the chairs and ranking members of armed forces committees in both the House and Senate in a move to head off cuts in the Air Guard’s budget.

If approved, Rahall said, the cuts would lead to a loss of 193 personnel in the West Virginia National Guard.

Rahall is asking for a freeze on the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve force structure and manpower for the rest of fiscal 2013.

In addition, he is seeking creation of a National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force to provide a more inclusive and transparent mechanism for addressing the guard’s budget.

“Having pushed so hard to ensure the guard has a seat at the table on the Joint Chiefs of Staff so that it could advocate effectively in behalf of the guard’s budgetary needs, I firmly believe the guard’s input must be considered as part of any deficit reduction effort affecting our nation’s military,” the 3rd District congressman said.

“These are very tough and austere budgetary times. I am going to fight hard to protect the needs of our men and women in uniform and fight to ensure they have every resource necessary to fulfill their mission.”