Earlier this month, we told you that Gov. Nathan Deal’s No. 2 appointment to run the Georgia National Guard last year didn’t meet the requirements spelled out by state law.
The Georgia code mandates that an assistant adjutant general have five years’ Guard experience. Joe Jarrard, a retired lieutenant colonel from Dahlonega with 20 years’ service in the U.S. Army, has a Bronze Star and a tour of Iraq duty in his background. But Jarrard doesn’t have a Guard background.
David Petraeus wouldn’t qualify, either, a spokesman for Deal pointed out.
Last week, the House Defense & Veteran Affairs committee had a hearing on HB 800, the bill intended to set everything right – by approving five years’ national military service as a substitute for Guard service. The committee approved the legislation over the voiced objections of two retired leaders of the U.S. Army Reserve, Major Gen. Robert C. Hughes and Brig. Gen. William T. Thielemann.
The two generals wrote the following Feb. 10 letter of protest to state Rep. John Yates, R-Griffin, chairman of the House committee. They do not mention by name Adjutant General Jim Butterworth, a state senator appointed to head the Guard last year, but they make a pointed allusion to him:
Dear Representative Yates
We thank you for the opportunity to address your Defense & Veterans Affairs committee. The outcome on HB800 was disappointing, but unfortunately not surprising.
We were simply trying to state what should have been obvious to all: the Governor has made two appointments that totally ignore criteria established by the legislature. Instead of any concern over that issue, we faced trite (and at times seemingly hostile) questions like the lack of military service of our President. We hope your committee does not really believe that, because our [Commander-in-Chief] has no military service, then knowledge and experience is not important throughout the chain of command. Unfortunately, it was obvious early in the discussion that the Committee members were not interested in our input, and that a decision had been made prior to the meeting.
We were also trying to show that we are facing severe challenges on a national level to include force structure, funding and equipment. We have both faced similar issues in the past. We can almost assure you that the Army’s approach will be to take funding and structure from the reserve force. The Air Force is already moving in that direction. Our state leaders will have to fight with DOD for resources and then fight again with NGB for those limited resources. If anything, we should be raising the qualification standards for TAG and ATAG to better position our state for the battles to come. Instead we are lowering the standards.
The executive branch has in essence thumbed its nose at the legislative branch by ignoring established statutory standards. In doing so the Governor has placed himself above the law. Instead of indignation, the result has been accommodation after the fact. We find that approach most disappointing. We fully understand that politics is the art of compromise; however, there is a vast difference between compromise and concession. We find your concession on this issue most disappointing. It would have been nice to see our system of checks and balance actually providing those checks and balances. We find that, too, extremely disappointing.
Our position remains unchanged. We need quality, capable and experienced senior leadership for our soldiers and for our state. We should be raising those qualification standards, not lowering them. But again, we do appreciate the opportunity to share our views with you and your committee.
Robert C. Hughes
MG USAR (Ret)
William T. Thielemann
BG USAR (Ret)
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider