I have long known that the National Guard and Reserve are a bargain for our state and country. It's gratifying to finally see the numbers in black and white.
Last month, the Reserve Forces Policy Board issued a report to the Secretary of Defense on the full cost of military personnel.
It's the first official report from a Department of Defense entity that makes it clear that the cost of a National Guard or Reserve member is much less than that of an active-component member.
The report, which looked at all costs such as health care, dependent education, housing and retirement, shows that, in fiscal year 2013, the annual cost to the federal government for a reserve-component member is $123,351 while the cost of an active-component member is $384,622.
I point this out because, as part of the president's 2013 defense budget, the Air Force proposes to reduce the size and capability of its most efficient and cost-effective forces – the reserve component.
More specifically, they plan to close the Air Force Reserve's 911th Airlift Wing based in Pittsburgh this year.
Governor Tom Corbett and I continue to work with members of Congress, urging them to support a 2013 budget that honors national security, yet promotes fiscal responsibility. Based on the defense department's own report, it would make the most sense to take a small cut in the active component in order to maintain or expand the capabilities of the Department of Defense by shifting forces to the reserve-component. It's a 3-to-1 cost savings that should not be ignored.
Troops serving in the Guard and Reserve are as highly trained as their counterparts in the active-component, yet they only get paid when they work. Taking advantage of this cost-effectiveness is certainly not a novel idea, but one that the Air Force must seriously consider.
Wesley E. Craig
Pennsylvania National Guard