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State Governors Exert Defense Muscle

Defense analyst Todd Harrison posed a fascinating question while we discussed the battle over the Air National Guard’s budget: When has a military service had to negotiate their budget request with a group of state officials?

The Council of Governors has grabbed the attention of the Pentagon. Formed in 2010 to improve the response to natural disasters, the  ten governors who sit on the council have reached out to the rest of the state governors and gained a consensus among 48 of the 50.  Each signed letters to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Armed Services Committees in their fight against the Air Force’s decision to place the brunt of the cuts to the service’s budget on the backs of the Air National Guard.

The National Guard has always had one of the strongest lobbying groups on Capitol Hill. It has a national reach and “in the end, all politics is local,“said Greg Kiley, a defense analyst who served six years as a senior professional staff member for the Senate Armed Services Committee. But neither he nor Harrison could think of a time when they played such a prominent role in the debate over a service’s budget/.../

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