FAIRFIELD — California National Guard units such as the 49th Military Police Brigade based in Fairfield will take a hit from spending cuts, as the federal budget dilemma hits the National Guard.
“As home of the nation’s largest and most frequently mobilized National Guard force, California can expect to bear some of the most significant burdens from this sequester,” said Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, adjutant-general of the California National Guard, in a statement.
Overall, the California National Guard faces the loss of nearly $100 million from its budget in mid-April if full funding for the federal budget is not passed by March 27.
Baldwin said that the nation and the state face new challenges and priorities, but that while federal spending must be trimmed, “the answer, however, lies not in an automatic, across-the-board sequester.”
He pointed out that the Guard already does more with less, accounting for only 16 percent of the Department of Defense budget while making up 39 percent of the military’s overall force.
“This critical and dynamic service lies in peril should our elected leaders fail to solve the sequestration dilemma,” Baldwin said in a statement. “Rather than viewing the National Guard as an expense to be cut further, we urge lawmakers to view us as a solution.”
The specific impact on the 49th Military Police Brigade, which has its headquarters on Parker Road, is not yet known, according to Capt. William Martin of the California National Guard’s Public Affairs Office, but it will be definitely be affected.
One of the concerns is running short on ammunition because the Guard’s routine request to the federal government for ammunition was denied.
“We could run out of ammunition used for qualifying on weapons and that is a real concern for all of our soldiers,” Martin said.
That failure to meet Army-wide standards for weapons qualification would make them nondeployable for either state emergencies or overseas deployments to combat zones.
By late April, the Guard’s 2,000 federally funded maintenance staff, some of whom work full-time for the 49th Military Police Brigade, will be affected by the one-day-a-week furloughs.
The unit’s guardsmen will also be affected by the loss of about $1.5 million in funds for behavioral services, which includes programs to address post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide among returning combat veterans. Guard military construction projects that involve federal money are also in danger.
“We are being called on to do more with less,” Martin said.
The 49th’s Homeland Defense Force will not be affected, because its budget for this year has already been funded, but it can expect to be affected next year if Congress and the White House don’t reach a deal on the federal budget and sequestration.
The California National Guard wants to keep it as robust as possible in order to have the ability to respond to a potential national disaster or terrorist attack in the Western United States that could involve nuclear, chemical or biological threats.
“What we are concerned about is what they are finally allocated,” Martin said.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.