An amendment supporting the National Guard and Military Reserve Force advanced by Congressman Chris Collins, NY-27, has been adopted by the House of Representatives. Collins successfully inserted the amendment into the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, which establishes all programs and spending levels for the Department of Defense.
The amendment urges US military leadership to maintain a strong National Guard and Military Reserve Force. Collins' Congressional district includes the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, home to the Air Force Reserve's 914th Airlift Wing and the Air National Guard's 107th Airlift Wing.
Collins' camp said the amendment calls on the secretary of defense to ensure that the National Guard and Reserve are both fully manned and fully funded, and remain critical components of the nation's Armed Forces, especially at a time when America looks to maintain its combat power during a time of budget austerity. The amendment also sends a message that Congress will not stand for proposals that look to diminish the role and importance of the National Guard and Reserve.
"History proves that, in times of need, America has called upon its National Guard and Reserve to help its citizens at home and defend its freedom abroad," Collins said. "From our earliest beginnings as a country, to the two World Wars that came to define generations, members of the National Guard and Reserve have played a deep role in this nation's history."
"Recent events have showed us that the National Guard and Reserve are more important than ever," Collins added. "On Sept. 11, 2001, it was members of the Air National Guard that flew the first jets over New York City and our nation's capital. Many members of both the National Guard and Reserve have fought and died for this country in both Iraq and Afghanistan. And, when natural disasters strike, members of the National Guard and Reserve respond quickly, often at the expense of their own personal safety.
"In my own congressional district, the proud men and women of both the Air Force Reserve's 914th Airlift Wing and the Air National Guard's 107th Airlift Wing stand ready to assist their country each and every day."
During the amendment process, Collins also helped lead the effort to defeat a proposal that would have prohibited the Army National Guard from sponsoring certain sporting events, including motorsport races. Collins took to the House floor condemning the proposal for wrongly targeting one the best recruiting practices of the National Guard. Motorsport sponsorship programs have helped the Guard add 400,000 new citizen soldiers since it began in 2007, many of whom were sworn in right at the racetrack.
Niagara County Legislator David Godfrey said, "Our military is currently dealing with major financial, budget and structural issues. While these issues are debated, the world is not getting any safer. Cold War threats have been replaced by the threats of worldwide terrorism. Any resolution of our nation's force structure will likely involve increasing the role our Reserves and National Guard forces play in our nation's defense posture. The role of bases like the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station will be relied on as never before to contribute to a safe America. The NFARS stands ready to assume any new role and mission the nation calls on it to perform."
Merrell A. Lane, chairman of the Niagara Military Affairs Council, said, "The guard and reserve are an important part of the proud military history here in Western New York. This is a very critical time for the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and we appreciate the support from Congressman Collins for our units here at Niagara."