National Guard Gains in Full-Time Manning, Controlled Grades
By Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke
Special to American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 21, 2008 An increase in full-time manning for the Army National Guard and controlled grades for both the Army and Air National Guard were included in the 2009 National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Bush on Oct. 14.
The increase in full-time manning for the Army National Guard authorizes an additional 3,564 personnel, including 2,110 Active Guard Reserve slots above the budget request.
National Guard officials said it is the biggest increase in the Army Guard in 22 years.
“Full-time manning is a critical component to increasing readiness in the Army National Guard,” said Army Col. Marianne Watson, the Army National Guard’s personnel chief. “The full-time manning increases will be targeted to support personnel readiness, transformation initiatives and increasing unit level readiness throughout all 54 states and territories.
“This growth, although significant, must be continued to fully support the transition of the ARNG from the strategic reserve construct to an operational force,” Watson said.
The increase in controlled grades for full-time officers and senior enlisted members of the Army and Air National Guard will help to reduce delays in promotions. This applies to lieutenant colonels and colonels in the Air Guard, and first sergeants, master sergeants and sergeants major, as well as majors through colonels, for the Army Guard.
"The increase in Air National Guard controlled grades and military construction authorizations will provide needed flexibility to the ANG as it continues to bed down critical new Air Force missions to meet our responsibilities to the combatant commanders and our governors," said Air Force Col. Jeffrey A. Lewis, director of Manpower, Personnel and Services for the Air National Guard.
National Guard officials said this increase provides a total of more than 1,000 new Active Guard Reserve promotion opportunities across the National Guard.
Other major National Guard provisions included in the NDAA include:
-- Mobilized officers can be considered for unit vacancy promotions back at home.
-- The president and governors can consent to the appointment of a National Guard officer for “dual hat” status in advance of actually taking command of forces, which will guarantee continuity of command. This section of the legislation also specifies that they will not be subject to the Posse Comitatus Act, which generally prohibits federal military personnel and units of the National Guard under federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States.
-- The age limit for chaplains and medical officers increases from age 64 to 68, which equalizes the age limits between the reserve and active-duty components.
-- Funding was authorized for seven Army joint cargo aircraft, but none for the Air Force program.
-- For fiscal 2009, Congress appropriated $22.9 billion for the National Guard, which is an additional $1.2 billion, or 5.4 percent, over the president’s request of $21.6 billion.
-- The Army Guard’s operations and maintenance account and the Air Guard’s personnel account were funded below the president’s request, but all other accounts were appropriated more than requested, National Guard officials said.
-- The law also authorizes a 3.9 percent pay raise for servicemembers, to take effect Jan. 1. This represents a 0.5 percent increase over the president’s initial request.
-- Funds were appropriated to continue action on recommendations of the president’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors. Defense Department officials said the funds will ensure world-class health and rehabilitative care to warfighters who are wounded, ill or injured in service to the nation.
(Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke serves at the National Guard Bureau.)