The National Guard could cut training as soon as July unless Congress passes emergency legislation reimbursing the cost of the Capitol security mission, Army leadership told a Senate Appropriations Committee subpanel Tuesday morning.
The four-month response to the Jan. 6 riots reportedly cost more than $500 million, depleting the Guard’s operational and training funds.
“Without these resources [reimbursed], the Guard…will find themselves with training issues,” warned Army Secretary Christine Wormuth.
She indicated that the force has already postponed some training and could begin cancelling training events as soon as July, due to concerns over violating federal law that bars spending in excess of the allotted budget.
Wormuth’s concerns echoed those of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who told senators Thursday that a reimbursement failure will impact the Guard’s ability “in the near term to be able to train and adequately prepare.”
The National Guard Association of the United States also sounded the alarm on the topic last week, citing a National Guard Bureau whitepaper that highlighted the need for reimbursement.
If an Aug. 1 funding deadline passes without Congress authorizing reimbursement, annual trainings, drills and individual schools will be cancelled, the NGAUS release stated.
Although the House already passed a Capitol security bill that includes $521 million in reimbursement for the National Guard, it also included $200 million to establish a permanent Guard quick reaction force.
Republican lawmakers and NGAUS officials have repeatedly spoken against such a mission.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville seemed to push back against the idea, too, when a lawmaker asked if a permanent military security task force was “appropriate.”
“My best military advice,” he said, “is law enforcement should be conducted by law enforcement agencies, and the military should be the last resort when it comes to loss of law enforcement.”
McConville and Wormuth had little to say, though, about the proposed end strength and top line cuts in President Joe Biden’s budget request for the Army. Instead, the two leaders emphasized to lawmakers that the service’s key modernization priorities remained funded despite “tough decisions.”
The chief of staff expressed concern in April that the Army already had too few troops to meet its requirements. That was before the budget request.
“Success can only be assured through continued transformation,” said Wormuth. “The Army has already made — and will continue to make — tough decisions to ensure the best use of resources to adapt to and stay ahead of the capabilities of our adversaries.”
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