National Guard could cut training, maintenance without supplemental funding

By Ethan Sterenfeld / June 23, 2021 at 3:56 PM

The Army National Guard will have to cancel or postpone training this summer if Congress does not pass a supplemental appropriation to cover the $450 million the service spent defending the Capitol, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said Tuesday.

"If they are not able to cover that, right now the Army Guard is basically in a situation where they are concerned about their ability to pay for training for the rest of this year," Wormuth told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee.

Training could be delayed in states across the country this summer as training funding runs out before the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30, she said. No training has been postponed yet due to a lack of funding.

Training shortfalls could affect readiness in aviation and ground vehicle units, according to Wormuth. Much training has already been delayed in the past year as National Guard units were widely deployed to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and other emergencies.

A funding shortfall could also limit operations and maintenance at the end of the fiscal year, Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said at a press conference today.

"It's critical for us to get [the supplemental funding] this year," Hokanson said. The funding could not be delayed and folded into the fiscal year 2022 defense appropriations bill, hearings for which are ongoing, because the money is needed in FY-21.

The Guard is looking at "curtailing or drastically reducing" training this summer without the supplemental appropriation, according to Hokanson.

The whole National Guard, including both Army and Air Force units, spent $521 million on the Capitol deployment, he said.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin pledged at a House Armed Services Committee hearing today to support the supplemental funding for the National Guard.

"You have my commitment that we will advocate when and wherever possible," Austin said.