By Rep. Steve Austria
As a nation, we have asked more of our men and women serving in our National Guard with longer deployments and more missions. As a Member of the Homeland Security Committee, I have attended many deployment ceremonies and traveled to Afghanistan to visit our soldiers.
In addition to playing a vital role in protecting our nation, the Springfield Air National Guard Base and Rickenbacher Air and Army National Guard Base missions help support and strengthen our local economy. We now have an opportunity to expand the Ohio National Guard’s role in Springfield and Ohio with the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and in Fairborn with Calamityville, a homeland security response team.
Given the integral role the National Guard plays both home and abroad, it is critical it receives adequate funding. Currently, Guard and Reserve operational functions are financed through the “Overseas Contingency Operations” budget, a supplemental account that also funds the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, as these missions continue to wind down, this account will inevitably become obsolete.
Replacing the current account with a more certain, dedicated stream of funding must be a priority. The National Guard will continue to be critical in protecting our nation as it expands its role from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to the current and future homeland security challenges we face. Thus, it is imperative that the National Guard have the necessary funding to successfully complete their missions and return home safely.