Senate Passes Bennet-Backed Amendment to Give the National Guard a Seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Elevates Guard's Role in Pentagon Decision Making

The U.S. Senate last night approved legislation backed by Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet to give the National Guard its first seat on the nation’s highest military council, the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The measure, which was introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), was added as an amendment to the annual Defense Authorization Bill.

“Our National Guard and Reserve members have been serving our country honorably, working to keep us safe at home and fighting to protect our freedom abroad. They have earned a voice in Pentagon decisions that affect them,” said Bennet. “This bill will give the Guard the recognition and involvement it deserves.”

Bennet is a member of the Senate’s National Guard Caucus. The National Guard Empowerment and State-National Defense Integration Act (S.1025) – also known as “Guard Empowerment II – is the latest in a series of successful efforts led by the Guard Caucus over the last six years to give the Guard a more meaningful voice where key policy and budget decisions are made that affect the Guard. 

Among other changes, the bill would make the Chief of the National Guard Bureau a permanent member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; reestablish the position of the Vice Chief of the Guard Bureau at the three-star level; enhance the Guard’s representation at the senior levels of U.S. Northern Command; and help clarify the disaster response command relationship among the Guard and the U.S. military commands. 

The bill is endorsed by the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the National Governors Association, the National Guard Association of the United States, the Adjutants General Association of the United States, and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States.