NO. R-80. JOINT RESOLUTION urging the U.S. Department of Defense not to extend the maximum length and frequency of National Guard deployments.
Offered by: Representatives Wright of Burlington and Tracy of Burlington.
Whereas, the National Guard has historically played a central role in our state’s and nation’s military defense, and
Whereas, each state’s National Guard units protect its citizens both at home, during natural disasters and civil disorders, and abroad when they serve directly with, and in support of, full-time active duty United States military forces, and
Whereas, when an individual signs up to serve in a state’s National Guard, such as Vermont’s, it is with the knowledge that he or she may, in addition to attending monthly weekend practice drills and fulfilling an annual two-weeks a year training commitment, be called-up periodically for active duty assignments for periods not to exceed 24 months, and
Whereas, National Guard call-ups are intended to supplement our full-time military forces during times of major overseas deployments, and
Whereas, the frequency and duration of National Guard call-ups have always been premised on the principle that members of the National Guard serve as part-time citizen soldiers who are able to maintain full-time careers aside from their guard duties, and
Whereas, employers of National Guard members appreciate that guard training instills good work habits and makes these citizen soldiers valued employees, and
Whereas, the current limitations on the frequency and duration of National Guard call-ups enable employers to hire these outstanding individuals, knowing their guard obligations will not entail unreasonably frequent and lengthy leaves of absence, and
Whereas, the current parameters on National Guard call-ups help ensure there remains a sufficient number of guard personnel in a state at any time to respond to a local emergency, and
Whereas, the U.S. Defense Department is considering extending the duration and frequency of National Guard call-ups, and
Whereas, these proposed changes in the National Guard’s call-up limitations would transform guard members’ status from citizen soldiers into an essentially full-time fighting force, and
Whereas, Major General Martha Rainville, adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard, who is a member of the defense department’s Reserve Forces Policy Board, has expressed her opposition to extending deployment terms beyond the current 24 months because she fears the resulting deterrent effect on both reenlistment and recruitment, and
Whereas, Governor Douglas has stated that longer terms than 24 months for National Guard call-ups “are a great disservice to the men and women who have volunteered to serve and who loyally guard our freedom,” and would “fundamentally alter the federal mission of the Guard, hamper recruitment, and dramatically compound the stress of families, friends and employers,” and
Whereas, in a strong showing of bipartisan opposition, both Vermont’s Democratic U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and Missouri’s Republican U.S. Senator, Kit Bond, the cochairs of the Senate National Guard Caucus, have expressed their opposition to this proposed change in National Guard deployment policies, and
Whereas, the extension of the duration of National Guard deployment limitations and their frequency will only lead to a decline in enlistments and retention rates that will be detrimental to the guard and its vital military missions on both the state and federal levels, now therefore be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:
That the General Assembly urges the U.S. Department of Defense not to extend the maximum length and frequency of National Guard call-ups, and be it further
Resolved: That the secretary of state be directed to send copies of this resolution to Major General Martha Rainville, adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard, at Vermont National Guard headquarters at Camp Johnson in Colchester, to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and to the members of the Vermont Congressional Delegation.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street