Search The Site
Press Release of Senator Cantwell
Cantwell Praises Pentagon Decision to Not Change 24-Month Deployment Policy for National Guard and Reserves
Sunday, Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld answers Cantwell's question about proposed changes in deployment policy on "Meet the Press"
Sunday, February 06,2005
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell praised the Department of Defense's decision to not change their deployment policy for National Guard and Reserves. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced the decision on NBC's "Meet the Press" this morning, saying that National Guard and Reserves would not be deployed for longer than 24 months, cumulatively.
“I hope today's comments provide certainty for our National Guard and Reserve troops and comfort for their families,” Cantwell stated.
“It's important to keep our word to Guard and Reservists in exchange for the many sacrifices they make on behalf of our country,” she added.
Cantwell sent a letter to Secretary Rumsfeld on January 11, 2005, regarding her concerns about recent news reports of the Pentagon's plans to change their deployment policy so the Department of Defense can call up reserves more frequently and for longer periods of time. Cantwell asked for clarification on the Department of Defense's plans, which Rumsfeld addressed today on "Meet the Press."
Cantwell hopes to hear receive official assurances in writing from the Pentagon soon.
TRANSCRIPT FROM NBC'S MEET THE PRESS, Sunday, February 6, 2005
MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to what we need on the ground right now. About 40 to 45 percent of our troops are National Guard and Army Reserve. The head of the Army Reserve said that we are rapidly degenerating, "into a broken force." He's worried about retention, recruitment. The National Guard has reached only half its goal in January in terms of retention and recruitment. The Marine Corps for the first time in a decade has not reached its recruiting goal. Will it be necessary to say to the National Guard, "You may have to serve another 24 months, not just the original 24 months that we sent you, but we may break you and have to send you back again"?
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: We have no plans to do--to change the rulings and the methods that we're operating on at the present time. For the first time, we've begun to see some goals and targets not being fulfilled. But generally recruiting and retention has been on track and is today generally on track. One of the reasons that the National Guard and the Reserves are slightly down is because we're enlarging the size of the Army and, in that process, more people are staying in. And one of the pools that you draw on to build the Guard and Reserve is people coming off active duty, as you know. So there's fewer people coming off active duty. Therefore, we've increased the number of recruiters. We've increased the incentives, and we just simply have to recognize that the stress on the force is real, and take the kinds of steps that we've taken to anticipate that and see that we're able to attract and retain the people we need. We've still only used about 40 percent of the Guard and Reserve that's available in this country, since the beginning of the Afghan operation.
MR. RUSSERT: So you have no plans to change the rules in terms of extending...
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: No, the rules--there's been a debate in the press...
MR. RUSSERT: Yes.
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: ...about whether you wanted to change 24 months to cumulative or consecutive, and it's being left at consecutive, not cumulative.
MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you some comments that some have made...
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Or cumulative. I misspoke.
# # #