Governors Oppose Attempt by Obama to Usurp Control of the Guard

A proposal to squash individual state control of National Guard units in the event of an emergency faces bipartisan opposition from the National Governor’s Association. State leaders from West Virginia and Vermont expressed their objections on Friday to Paul N. Stockton, assistant secretary of Defense for homeland defense and Americas’ security affairs.

“We are concerned that the legislative proposal you discuss in your letter would invite confusion on critical command and control issues, complicate interagency planning, establish stove-piped response efforts, and interfere with governors’ constitutional responsibilities to ensure the safety and security of their citizens,” Govs. Jim Douglas , R-Vt., and Joe Manchin III , D-W.Va., wrote on behalf of the group.

…In their letter, the governors elaborate on their concerns over expanding the Pentagon’s independent authority to operate military forces in domestic incidents. To carry out homeland defense and homeland security responsibilities, governors have to retain control over the domestic use of their National Guard and active and reserve military operating in their states, the letter said.

…“Without assigning a governor tactical control of [military] forces assisting in a response, and without the use of a dual-hatted National Guard commander to ensure coordination between [National Guard] and [federal] forces, strong potential exists for confusion in mission, execution and the dilution of governors’ control over situations with which they are more familiar and better capable of handing than a federal military commander,” they wrote.