Wanted, $13.8 Billion for Air Guard Readiness

At yesterday’s breakfast meeting with defense reporters, Army Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, head of the National Guard Bureau, distributed a fact sheet (we only show the ANG portion) itemizing massive National Guard funding shortfalls. It will take an infusion of $13.8 billion between 2008 and 2013 to get ANG units to 90 percent readiness, Blum calculates. A glaring shortfall of nearly $350 million shows up for depot maintenance and flying hours over those six years. “We’ll probably have to get some funds restored to those areas if we’re going to deliver the operational readiness that we’ve delivered in the last 25 years,” said Blum. “The demand on the Air National Guard is significant, and they have to maintain their readiness. The flying hour program is the most glaring” shortfall, he said, calling the budget gap a “conscious decision [to] accept some risk in the budget.”