Durbin: Provision to Give National Guard Full Membership on the Joint Chiefs of Staff Approved by Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–December 1, 2011. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that the National Defense Authorization Act approved late tonight by the U.S. Senate included a provision that gives the Chief of the National Guard full voting membership on the Joint Chiefs of Staff – the biggest change since the Marine Corps was given full membership in 1979.  This bipartisan measure was strongly support by the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard Major General William L. Enyart.

“This bill ensures that the men and women of the National Guard who have fought with distinction in Iraq, Afghanistan and all around the globe have a seat at the table advising the President and the Pentagon,” said Durbin.  “With over 500 Illinoisans serving overseas as part of the National Guard, it’s essential they have a strong voice in Washington to help us understand the resources they need and the issues they face.” 

There are 13,500 Illinois members of the National Guard and 465,000 National Guardsmen nationwide.  After the passage of today’s legislation, Major General Enyart said: “It is fitting that as the National Guard celebrates its 375th year, that the Chief of the National Guard Bureau gets a greater say in the decisions that affect this great organization’s future.  The National Guard possesses local, state and federal interagency relationships such as with IEMA, FEMA and others that make us uniquely suited to help protect the American people against natural and manmade threats here in the United States in addition to the huge role the Guard plays in overseas combat deployments. A seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff will give the National Guard a direct and formal line of communication to the Secretary of Defense and help him better and more efficiently use all the resources available to him in helping to defend America.” 

Also included in today’s legislation was a provision that expands the State Partnership Program which pairs up each state’s Guardsmen with a different country around the world for joint exchanges, trainings and deployments.  The Illinois National Guard has partnered with Poland since 1993.