Chairman opposes adding National Guard boss to Joint Chiefs

The top U.S. military official said Tuesday he will advise senators this week against adding the National Guards senior general to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs chairman, told Guard members at a conference in Maryland that he opposes the idea, which is frequently floated by lawmakers. Congress has never enacted legislation that would add the National Guard boss to the Joint Chiefs, which includes the chiefs of staff of the Army and Air Force, the chief of naval operations and the Marine Corps commandant, as well as a chairman and vice chairman.

“I wanted you to hear it from me, before you saw it on CNN,” Dempsey told the Guard members, according to a news release from his office.

“Only one person can be in charge of the ‘brand,’” Dempsey said, according to the release.

“That person, who is accountable for that institution across the components, in my feeling, should be the service chief,” Dempsey said.

His comments came two days before he and the other service chiefs will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee to testify on the same matter.

Dempsey also said he opposes making the National Guard chief a member of the Joint Chiefs because that individual lacks budget authority. The Guard and Reserve components of the military receive funding from each military service.

“The service chief,” Dempsey said, “along with the service secretary, has the responsibility to organize, train and equip the force using the resources given him by the Congress of the United States.”