Army Secretary: Guardsmen may have 'training issues' if not reimbursed for Capitol deployment

Army Secretary: Guardsmen may have 'training issues' if not reimbursed for Capitol deployment
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National Guard officials may have to cut troops' training beginning in July if Congress does not reimburse the force for its months-long deployment protecting the U.S. Capitol, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth warned on Tuesday. 

“Without those resources, the Guard ... will find themselves with training issues,” Wormuth told lawmakers at a Senate Appropriations subpanel hearing on Army funding. 

Thousands of National Guardsmen from around the country deployed to Washington, D.C., for nearly five months to shore up security at the Capitol after the Jan. 6 attack on the building by supporters of former President TrumpDonald TrumpJulian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Five takeaways from Arizona's audit results MORE. 

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The cost of the deployment — which at its height included nearly 26,000 Guardsmen — was estimated at $521 million and was pulled from the Guard’s operational and training funds.

A House-passed bill to bolster Capitol security included funding to reimburse the Guard, but the Senate is still crafting its own version of such legislation, leaving the Guard without payment for the mission.

“If we are not able to cover that right now, the Army Guard is basically in a situation where they are concerned about their ability to pay for training for the rest of this year,” Wormuth said of the lack of funds.

The Guard has already postponed some regularly scheduled training due to preoccupations with COVID-19 support and missions at the southern border and the Capitol, she said.

Wormuth added that the Guard could cancel training as soon as July or be at risk of violating federal law that prevents excess spending over the designated budget. 

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“It’s definitely a concern and something that will impact our Guard all around the nation,” she said.

Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — The Quad confab Top State Dept. official overseeing 'Havana syndrome' response leaving post Pentagon 'aware' of reports Wisconsin military base's struggle to feed, heat Afghan refugees MORE voiced similar concerns a week prior, telling lawmakers on Thursday that failure to approve Guard funding before Congress's August recess “will impact their ability in the near term to be able to train and adequately prepare.” 

And Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark MilleyMark MilleyOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — The Quad confab Top Foreign Affairs Republican seeks declassification of Afghan intel Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Defense bill takes center stage MORE, who testified alongside Austin, added that a lack of reimbursement for the Guard will have a “significant negative impact on their ability to maintain their readiness.”

In addition to the Capitol and southern border deployments, the National Guard has been strained in the past year assisting local law enforcement in response to civil unrest, helping after hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters, and bolstering cyber defenses and local poll workers during last year’s elections.