California Adjutant General: It's Time to Grow the Guard

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A statement from Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, Adjutant General for the California National Guard, in response to the Pentagon's Air Force Force Structure announcement on March 13:

"On Tuesday the nation learned that the Department of the Air Force is proposing net reductions of about 6,000 Air National Guardsmen from its force structure, a number greater than the combined proposed cuts to their active duty and reserve counterparts.

While I am disappointed with the proposed cuts, we need to keep in mind they are only proposals on the part of the Department of the Air Force leadership. Congress would still need to ratify any and all cuts before they become effective. In the meantime, California National Guard leaders are evaluating any potential impact from the proposed cuts on our own state's force and we are preparing to do everything in our power to protect and care for the affected Airmen and their families.

I also feel strongly that this is not the time to cut the National Guard, but to grow it. The numbers tell the story:

The Air National Guard accounts for only 6 percent of the total Air Force budget but makes up 19 percent of its personnel and provides for 30-40 percent of the Air Force's total fighter, tanker and airlift capacity. Likewise, the Army National Guard accounts for less than 11 percent of the Army budget, but makes up 32 percent of its personnel and more than 40 percent of its operating forces.

The experience and readiness of the National Guard is at an all-time high. More than 50 percent of the nation's Guard forces are combat veterans, having consistently rotated through operations in Afghanistan and Iraq since those conflicts began. Our Soldiers and Airmen stand confident, competent and equipped to meet the demands of commanders overseas and our governor at home.

Moreover, California is home to the nation's most dynamic and frequently deployed National Guard force. We have transformed from a strategic reserve to an operational force in the global fight against terrorism, while simultaneously maintaining our robust capability to support state response to emergencies and conduct Homeland Defense operations. The National Guard is also our most cost-effective and flexible weapon and an invaluable asset to California and a nation that are not willing to compromise security and support for our citizens amid this difficult financial season. "

Media interested in more information or interviews with California National Guard leadership should contact Maj. Jon Shiroma, public affairs officer, at 916-854-3304.