(December 12, 2017) The lack of increased defense funding is putting troops in “body bags,” a member of the House Armed Services Committee told attendees at the 21st Annual NGAUS Industry Day in the association’s headquarters today.
Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Miss., told the crowd of 200-plus business leaders that some in Congress don’t grasp the impact stop-gap budgets, also called “continuing resolutions,” which prevent spending increases.
Kelly said more service members have died this year in training accidents than in combat situations. A majority of those deaths, he said, are “a direct result of us not passing a fully funded defense budget in September when it’s supposed to be passed.”
“That is totally unacceptable to me,” he said. “I take it personally.”
Kelly, a colonel in the Mississippi Army National Guard with 31 years of service, was the keynote speaker for the event, which is an annual opportunity to learn Guard requirements directly from National Guard Bureau officials.
Attendees learn strategies for engaging with the Guard and hear more about the association’s largest annual event, the NGAUS General Conference & Exhibition.
Kelly, a lifetime member of NGAUS, ended his remarks with a request for the audience.
“What we really need is industry to help us on the Hill,” he said. “Sell the message that we can’t continue to have CRs because they’re at the expense of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.”
Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, the NGAUS chairman of the board, echoed those comments and said that working together is crucial to Guardsmen getting the necessary equipment and funding.
“You can’t do that without partnership,” said Hoyer. “You’ve got to have that partnership between NGAUS and the [National Guard] Bureau, and NGAUS and our corporate partners.
“The whole purpose of this is to bring everybody together . . . we as a nation are not going to be successful unless we all are collectively working together.”