The Guard’s new battle: Fighting budget cuts


DOVER — The Delaware National Guard continues to battle against potential budget cuts and forced reductions.

But their leader, Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, insists the Guard will continue to be prepared for any challenges that might come its way.

Five-hundred soldiers and airmen of the Delaware National Guard who attended the 17h annual Senior Leaders Conference on Saturday morning were fully briefed on the situation.

The National Commission on the Future of the Army will meet at the end of this month with U.S. Congress to make recommendations regarding the size and structure of the Army, which may or may not be detrimental to the DNG moving forward, said Gen. Vavala.

“Within that Army it’s like a pie where there is a percentage of the Army National Guard, the active Army and the Army reserve,” Gen. Vavala said.

Those recommendations are going to determine how big that structure is going to be and then the budget is appropriated based on that, as to who will get a piece of it.”

The National Guard is comprised of nearly 500,000 members. Budget cuts, the general says, can have a significant impact on the DNG.

The Army wants to reduce the DNG from 352,000 to about 342,000 and when sequestration kicks in that number can decrease to 318,000, Gen. Vavala said.

The National Defense Authorization Act is a federal law which specifies the budget and expenditures of the U.S. Department of Defense.

The U.S. Congress oversees the defense budget primarily through two yearly bills: the National Defense Authorization Act and defense appropriations bills.

The authorization bill determines the agencies responsible for defense, establishes funding levels, and sets the policies under which money will be spent.

“We need to maintain that number of 350,000 for the Delaware National Guard,” said Gen. Vavala. “We’re an operational force that is ready, reliable, and relevant.

“We don’t require the infrastructure of active bases and insulations. We’re effective because we live and work in the local community, but when needed we put the uniforms on and respond to the needs of the country.

Lt. Colonel Len Gratteri said it’s critical that these cuts don’t happen.

“You can’t cut the National Guard down because it’s going to not only impact those 350,000 people, but the country as well,” Col. Gratteri said.

“You’re going to have less capability to respond and in the National Guard we don’t fight overseas, but we take care of the homeland and that’s critical.”

Gen. Vavala hopes to maintain the DNG current strength moving forward.

“I want to keep that number in tact,” Gen. Vavala said. “I want to keep that number at a state of readiness so if the country is in need I call them up.”

But Gen. Vavala said they plan to continue to be prepared for anything that may happen.

“We’re just waiting on the outcome,” Gen. Vavala said. If it doesn’t work our way, we’re not going to be happy, but we’ll adjust. But if that is the case I think the big the losers in this will be the citizens.”

“The people that want to serve our National Guard will have less people and there will be fewer jobs for them,”Gen. Vavala added.

“This will determine our future, but we’re going to continue to maintain our level of readiness and do whatever we have to do based on whatever reasons we’re given.”

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