Graham pushes for Guard to join Joint Chiefs

I thought this was a sort of constitutionally interesting item:

Senate Passes Graham Amendment Making National Guard Part of Joint Chiefs of Staff

WASHINGTON – The United States Senate last night approved an amendment introduced by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) giving the National Guard a seat on the nation’s highest military council, the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“I’m very pleased the Senate has voted to allow the Chief of the National Guard Bureau to become a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Guardsmen and Reservists are citizen-soldiers,” said Graham.  “Since 9/11, the National Guard and Reserves have done tremendous work at home and abroad in defense of our nation.  They have been called up to duty, taken away from their work and families, and sent to far-away lands for long tours to protect our nation.  They have earned a seat at the table where our most important military decisions are made.”

South Carolina Adjutant General MG Bob Livingston said, “This is a great day for our nation and our military. We face difficult times in terms of the variety and magnitude of foreign threats while dealing the reality of limited resources. The inclusion of the Chief of the National Guard Bureau on the Joint Chiefs of Staff brings the Citizen Soldier to the discussion. The Citizen Soldier has proven himself to be the innovator with civilian skills, the tie to the community and the proven hardened combat troop that is so critical in these tough times. This tradition of citizen responsibility is one of the essential threads in the fabric of our nation. It has made our nation great and will propel us into the future.  The appointment of the Chief of the National Guard is a return to the basic values of our county and will pave the way to great innovation in the defense of our nation.”

The amendment, also sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) attracted 71 cosponsors, and was added by voice vote to the annual Defense Authorization bill.  The Senate continues to debate the measure and a final vote is expected later this week.

“The Senate vote last night was a long-overdue recognition and fitting tribute for our citizen-soldiers and the sacrifices they have made on behalf of our nation,” said Graham.  “The Guard and Reserve is indispensable to fighting the War on Terror and protecting the homeland.  Their voice needs to be heard.”

The legislation was endorsed by the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the National Governors Association, the National Guard Association of the United States, the Adjutants General Association of the United States, and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States.


I always have trouble explaining the degree to which the Guard is our state militia, versus the extent to which it is part of national Total Force structure (does that still exist? not sure; references on Web seem few and far between). Seems like this is another tip in the direction of the federal. If so, he makes it sound like it’s noncontroversial, with all those groups supporting him.

Nor should it be. Controversial, I mean. States have no business having separate militaries, with the Recent Unpleasantness well behind us. Still, though, this is South Carolina, so I thought I’d take note…

43 thoughts on “Graham pushes for Guard to join Joint Chiefs

  1. `Kathryn Fenner

    I don’t really understand what the National Guard is, but I do think they ought to have their own song played/sung as part of the Armed Forces Salute trotted out to lumpy throats every November. I mean, I know the Coast Guard anthem–surely the Guard has gotten in harm’s way at at least as much as the CG–and certainly more than it did when George W. joined…

  2. bud

    Does this cost anything? If so, what’s the point. If not, I’m ok with it but it really doesn’t seem very significant.

  3. Silence

    The active duty military is authorized under Title 10 of the United States Code. The National Guard is authorized under Title 32. When the Commander in Chief orders them to active federal duty they are then placed under Title 10. When they are performing state activities within their home state, they remain under Title 32.
    States, under Title 32, Chapter 1, Secion 109 (c) can also organize other defense forces. This would include the State Guard here in South Carolina. I think there are valid reasons for non-National Guard state militias to exist, such as augmenting local law enforcement or the National Guard’s state missions if additional manpower is needed. Think of a major hurricane hitting the SC coast while many of our National Guard personnel (and much of their equipment) is deployed overseas. It’s not a far-fetched scenario these days, since the National Guard is now an integral part of front line and combat support units. They will likely be called up even for minor conflicts to augment and complete the active duty forces.

    I don’t know that Senator Graham’s proposed legislation makes much sense, because if the National Guard is performing federal activities that rise to the Joint Chiefs level, the individual units would likely be already activated under Title 10, and placed under the command of the regular Army or Air Force. Maybe there’s more to it than meets the eye at first glance.

  4. Steven Davis

    @Kathryn – The National Guard is part of other military branches… Army National Guard or Air National Guard. They don’t need their own song, that’d be like the USC Law School having their own school song.

    Nice swipe at GW, what branch did Obama serve in again?

    @bud – “Does this cost anything?

    I bet you go to a restaurant and only look at the prices on the menu.

  5. Rose

    Swipe at W or not, the Guard is actually far more active in deployments now than it was during Vietnam. I think that it is at its highest level since WWII. And what they are seeing now that it unprecedented is the number of multiple deployments for Guard units. My cousin is facing his 5th deployment next year.

  6. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ SD –There was no war going on, and most certainly not a draft, when Obama was of age to serve–I know because I am his age. When plenty of ordinary decent people were getting shipped out to fight against their will, W. managed to avoid it. Note that Kerry and Gore volunteered and served in Vietnam.

  7. Steven Davis

    @Kathryn – So you’re saying that because there wasn’t a draft in place Obama is exempt from service. Gotcha.

    Have Kerry or Gore served as President of the United States? Nope, so why bother bringing them up? You might as well bring up Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi for matter of this discussion.

  8. `Kathryn Fenner

    Actually, yes. Since it’s an all volunteer military, he was under no obligation to serve. It’s when it’s involuntary that it becomes an issue.

    I bring up Kerry and Gore b/c they were candidates for president vs. Geo. W.

  9. Steven Davis

    Then explain why there are only one or two children in all of Congress that are active duty? Do you believe they’re on the front lines or being coddled like Prince Harry and Prince William?

  10. Steven Davis

    Since Burl brought up a vice president, let’s Google the current one.

    Question: Did Joe Biden ever serve in the military?

    Answer: No Biden has no military service. He was rejected by the draft board for medical reasons…what kind I do not know.

    Joe Biden dodged 5 draft attempts due to school, until 1968 when he suddenly came down with asthma…from high school.

  11. Brad

    I, of course, was eligible at the same time as Burl.

    As I remember it (and Burl and others, remind me if I’m wrong) at the end there they were taking guys at age 19. We registered at 18, but it was the next year when guys got called.

    Anyway, I was 19 that last year (turning 20 in October 1973). But aside from being a student, I had a high lottery number. And of course, if they had called me, they’d have rejected me because of the asthma (which I’ve always thought dumb, but those were the rules).

    All of which conspired to make me less conscious of what was going on with the draft at the time, because I knew it was highly unlikely to affect me.

    And right after that, there was no draft.

  12. Brad

    OK, this is confusing. I tried to look this stuff up to check against my memory. And of course, the truth is more complicated than my memory.

    I didn’t have a “high” lottery number — it was 105 our of 366. BUT that year, the draft only went up to 95, so it was high enough. So I was right, at least, in remembering that my number put me out of reach of the draft.

    But then, when I go to the page about the drawing for 1973, it says, “This lottery was conducted for men who would have been called in 1973; however, no new draft orders were issued after 1972.” But I could have sworn some were called, and Burl specifically remembers being called in that year.

    So I don’t know…

  13. Brad

    And Steven, as I recall, the rule on asthma used to be something like, if you’d had trouble with it at any time since you were a certain age (I want to say 15), you were out.

    That has changed. The commanding general at Fort Jackson recently told me that if you’re clear of disease (or of drugs that also knocked people out, such as Ritalin) for two years, it no longer keeps you out.

    That’s a less restrictive standard, of course, that reflects realities — the all-volunteer military needs people, and so many people today take Ritalin at some time that it’s ridiculous to exclude them permanently.

    Whereas the Selective Service System was more, well, selective. Since you have the pool of all 19-year-olds to choose from, which is way more than you need, you can say that if someone has ever had asthma, you don’t want to mess with him, because there are millions who have never had it…

  14. bud

    If we were to impose the draft again wouldn’t it make sense to draft everyone regardless of their physical condition (including gender)? Those with asthma or a pimple on their ass like Rush Limbaugh could be assigned to a duty that would not be a problem for their particular ailment. Not sure why everyone shouldn’t be exposed to the tyranny of the draft.

  15. Brad

    Well, I don’t consider it to be tyranny, of course, but otherwise I agree with you.

    Well, except for drafting women. So that’s two things I disagree on.

    Basically, the draft was sort of based on wanting everybody to be a qualified rifleman (and in the Marines as opposed to the Army, everyone WAS a rifleman). Basically, they wanted everybody to be capable of being a grunt, and living outside under trying health conditions, ready to undertake forced marches on short notice, etc.

    And since there was such a large pool to pick from, the SSS could do that — just let in those who could be in the infantry if needed, and leave the others out.

    But I think it should be more inclusive, because there are a lot of things those of us who carry inhalers can do. In fact, if asthma is under control (which mine is these days, 90 percent of the time), there’s really nothing you can’t do — except when you have an attack. And even then, you can certainly sit at a keyboard and serve a useful purpose.

  16. `Kathryn Fenner

    I think everyone should serve his or her country for a year or two. Many of us are never going to be able to handle basic training, but can contribute as we mature somewhere else besides Five Points, racking up tuition charges.

  17. Brad

    Pharmacology these days has made things possible that used to be unworkable.

    Thanks to advances in asthma treatment (which is mainly prophylactic or preventative now), I could run farther without getting worn out when I was in my 40s than I could when I was in my teens.

    I’m always torn talking about these medical exemptions. I have always resented them — since I’m one of those guys who would have WANTED to serve, and because no one likes being rejected for something. And at the same time, I understand. For MY sake, I wanted to be allowed to serve. But for the SOCIETY’S sake, I can see why you’d go with only the most fit.

    And it’s the latter that should rule. It’s not about the feelings of the prospective soldier, whether he’s made to feel second-class or defective (a point I kept trying to make during discussions of DADT). It’s about the needs of the country.

    But with the advances in medicine, and the fact that so much of what the military does is high-tech now, I think you should be able to take in people with specific skills who might not be able to get through basic on the basis of overall fitness.

  18. Silence

    It costs a lot of money to train and equip soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines these days.

    It’s much better to get enthusiastic volunteers, train them into an effective fighting force with a cadre of professional NCO’s and commissioned officers than it is to have a fresh crop of 18 year olds every year or two.

    If you figured a two year active duty committment, by the time the new recruits had reported, inprocessed, completed basic training, gone to a specialty school, taken some leave and reported to their first duty station, it would be practically time to go home. Then you might owe them lifetime health care, GI Bill benefits, VA loans, etc. for almost no appreciable benefit to our national defense.

    Another practical consideration is that you’ve got over 4 million kids reaching military service age every year. I think our entire active duty military is under 3 million right now. Where are you going to put them all? Where would they train? Short of a WWII style mobilization, it would take decades and probably a trillion dollars to build up the capacity to train and care for these (unwanted) conscripts.

  19. Brad

    And remember — the Selective Service was selective even in WWII. As much as we tend to think of it that way, it was less than total mobilization.

    The Germans, in the last year of the war, were using Eastern European conscripts, boys, old men and the infirm on the front lines. Meanwhile the U.S. was fielding the fittest army in history. Since some were rejected, the Army was stronger and healthier than the public at large.

  20. Steven Davis

    “And Steven, as I recall, the rule on asthma used to be something like, if you’d had trouble with it at any time since you were a certain age (I want to say 15), you were out.”

    So I guess it was just a coincidence that he was suddenly diagnosed with asthma once his educational excuses lapsed. The Selective Service probably wouldn’t allow another 4FF Classification (pimple on the ass) to be waved.

  21. Steven Davis

    “Why should people be forced to “serve their country”. That’s called slavery.”

    Why should the country be forced to provide for lazy citizens?

  22. Burl Burlingame

    There have been plans bruited about that call for a return of the draft, but the draftee could serve not just in the army, but in any military service, as well as police, fire, rescue, education and paramedic fields.

  23. bud

    I agree with Steven. We shouldn’t be providing for lazy kids who inherit a fortune. Tax inheritance at a high rate and we cut way down on the number of lazy rich.

  24. Silence

    @bud: Inheritance is already taxed at pretty confiscatory rates. Unfortunately the ultra-wealthy have some ways around the estate tax, but the estate tax kicks in at 5 million and that does tend to catch a lot of small business owners and family farmers. Granted, 5 million is a lot of money, but it isn’t what it used to be.

    I’d argue that the government has no right to tax estates. The money was already taxed when the original money was earned and when interest, dividends or capital gains were earned. Why should people (or their progeny) be punished for saving or investing, rather than spending.
    I’ll lay out two scenarios:

    Scenario 1) A patriarch/matriarch of a family has ammassed a staggering fortune. They live frugally, far below their means and continue to build wealth. They invest the money in profitable companies, and also purchase bonds, allowing the federal and local governments to have access to capital for projects. His children are self supporting, well educated and hard working. When the parent dies, the children are left with a massive tax bill.

    Scenario 2: A wealthy patriarch has created a large fortune during his lifetime. In his retirement he spends lavishly – luxury cars, luxury estates, beach houses and ski lodges. Charter flights, yachts, fancy vacations, etc. His children are dilettantes, also living lavish lifestyles and supported by the old man. During his retirement his fortune dwindles to under 5 million, due to the family’s lavish consumption. No tax bill.

    Question: How is it fair to penalize the family in the first scenario?

    Lastly, it’s not the lazy rich citizens that the country is forced to provide for. They pretty much take care of themselves, or they won’t be rich long.

    I totally don’t mind helping out someone who wants to work hard and improve their lot in life. We need a social safety net that ensures that people can climb up from the poorest segment of society. I’m not saying that we have that now.

    What gives me serious heartburn is that we are forced to support people who either choose current consumption over providing for their future, or who continually make bad decisions.

    When I see poor people with expensive tattoos, phones, car accessories, or other consumption habits, it makes me sad. When I see the same people receiving public benefits it makes me angry.

    I don’t have an iPhone, a fancy car, body decorations or an expensive addiction (thank God). I could certainly afford all of those things, but I got the free phone, choose to pay my credit card off every month, pay down my 15-year home mortgage, my 30-year student loans, fully fund my 401(k) and Roth IRA and save for my daughter’s education instead. Someday hopefully she’ll get stuck with a large estate tax bill because of responsible choices I made in my 20’s and 30’s.

  25. Doug Ross


    I asked you to identify the homeless people you know whose situation was a result of millionaires only being taxed on 38% of their income instead of some higher number.

    Now I’ll ask you to identify the lazy rich people who are supposedly bringing down the country. Do you know any of them?

    You’ve got to get off the hyperbole train.

  26. Doug Ross


    Amen, brother. Prepare to be denigrated for not understanding that the way to nirvana is through taxation and redistribution of wealth to the “unlucky”. The only way to help the poor escape is by funneling earned income through the government to the recipient without any expectation of effort or self-improvement.

  27. Steven Davis

    @Silence – Neither scenario concerns bud, he’s just wanting all of those people taxed regardless. To him nobody should have a penny beyond living paycheck to paycheck. I suspect there’s a reason behind that view, and it starts with jealousy.

  28. Steven Davis

    I’m curious, what does bud do to earn a living? He’s awful critical of those who have worked hard and earned a decent living. Does he strive to make a better life for himself and his family or is he content with where he’s at right now?

  29. `Kathryn Fenner

    The best argument for confiscatory taxation of estates is that it levels the field a bit–making our country more of a meritocracy. Why should anyone get a huge head start financially? Alas, studies repeatedly show that the best indicator of personal wealth is parental wealth–apparently, you can take people from wealthy backgrounds and give them nothing to start with and they will still accumulate more wealth. Yes, they may make more frugal choices (I’m a very frugal person, even in my choice of a Mac to compute with), but they also know how the world works and have far better contacts. I wouldn’t know the first thing about how to buy illegal rugs (not counting Spam about “Canadian” pharmacies), but I do know how to network and have a fairly decent network.

    I don’t know if Doug has heard of Paris Hilton or the Kardashians?

    Seriously, though, I think there’s a huge difference in social value between true entrepreneurs, and trust fund babies, and hedge fund operators.

    and are there really any family farms left? Do the inheritors really intend to farm or to subdivide into McMansionlands?

  30. `Kathryn Fenner

    that’s “Illegal drugs” –I suspect I could find illegal rugs–there are so many going-out-of-business Oriental rug stores around, plus the street-side sellers of lions and/or Elvis in plush pile…

  31. Brad

    Some say we’re losing the War on Rugs. I refuse to recognize that. Years ago, I had all of it taken out of the downstairs of our house and replaced with hardwood. There’s still wall-to-wall upstairs, but what people do in the more private areas of their homes is no one else’s business…

  32. SusanG

    Brad, I think you could riff on the War on Rugs for Health and Happiness. Reminds me of those old SNL Rosanne Rosanna Danna routines. (“What’s wrong with sax and violins on TV? Oh. Never Mind.”)

  33. Brad

    As a guy with some serious allergies to dust, mold and mildew, I would be happy to lead that war. I’d be a berserker, right on the front line…

    Oh, wait. They probably wouldn’t let me in, on account of my allergies.

    Well, you know me… I’d be happy to send OTHERS off to fight rugs on my behalf, and thank them for their service.

    I’d even go to the hospital and treat the wounded — knee burns and the like…

  34. Steven Davis

    @Kathryn – “and are there really any family farms left? Do the inheritors really intend to farm or to subdivide into McMansionlands?”

    Is that a serious question? If so, I need to have a discussion with the person who first quoted that there are no dumb questions.

    I’m sure every 18 year old in the midwest is planning on turning the family farm into a subdivision. How many McMansions would even the best real estate agent sell in the middle of Kanasas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, etc… This may work in yuppie country (New England states), but rarely anywhere in a Red state.

    I suggest you take a trip somewhere where there isn’t a Starbucks withing three miles of your current location sometimes.

    Didn’t you grow up in Aiken County? You could start by looking there.


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