Abbott Slams President for Power Grab
with Air Guard Poaching for Space Force

Capitol Inside
May 6, 2024

Governor Greg Abbott joined a bipartisan chorus of protests from counterparts in almost every state on Monday when he accused President Joe Biden of playing politics with a push to essentially shift control of some National Guard troops from states to the U.S. Air Force.

"President Biden and his Admin. are making a power grab for the National Guard," Abbott said in a letter to Biden that he post on X this afternoon with Friday's date. "They want to give the Secretaries unilateral authority to dismantle National Guard units on a whim. Governors must not be sidelined as commander-in-chief of our National Guards."

The U.S. Air Force is seeking the ability to transfer state air guard members to the Space Force - the sixth branch of the American military that Donald Trump touted and signed into law as the president with an appropriation of $738 billion that included funds for federal employees to have paid leave.

The proposal that piqued Abbott's wrath would take the steam from a Space National Guard that governors favor over the strategy that the U.S. Department of Defense recommended in a budget request to Congress in March. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Abbott were the only two top state leaders who didn't pen their names to the letter last week.

The move could put Abbott at risk of losing several thousand troops who are under his jurisdiction in the Air National Guard here. The Army National Guard is six times larger than the Air Guard in Texas based on numbers that haven't been updated for the public in several years. The Texas Army and Air Guards had 18,000 and 3,000 members in 2017. The Air National Guard in Texas is currently directed by Brigadier General Andrew J. Camacho, the state's deputy adjutant general.

The loss of National Guard personnel to the U.S. Air Force for the space defense could have minimal effect on Abbott's border mission Operation Lone Star. The program has been a joint initiative with the Texas Army National Guard and the state Department of Public Safety. But the TXANG has assisted in the border security operation at the Rio Grande by giving leaders on the ground a view from the skies and a presence above.

Abbott told Biden that the proposal would open a can of worms and threaten the Texas Guard's ability to respond to crises.

"Congress has long required the consent of a governor before units can be transferred out of the National Guard he commands," Abbott explained in the communique. "By departing from this sensible arrangement, and allowing the Secretaries to dismantle National Guard units on a whim, Legislative Proposal 480 would set a dangerous precedent. Members of the Texas National Guard must always stand ready to respond to natural disasters, civil disturbances, and cartel activity that threaten our way of life."

Abbott was careful to avoid the appearance of opposing the Space Force or doing something to diminish it as a landmark Trump accomplishment. Trump created the U.S. Space Force in 2019 as the American military's first new branch since 1947 with his signature on the defense authorization bill for 2020. The measure earmarked funds for aircraft design and construction, pay hikes for military and civilian employees, ships, tanks, armed vehicles and other expenses.

"Space is the world's newest warfighting domain," Trump said at a bill signing. "Amid grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital. We're leading, but we're not leading by enough, and very shortly, we'll be leading by a lot."

But Abbott argued that governors should have a say in the Space Force's expansion. "The U.S. Department of the Air Force should retract Legislative Proposal 480. Instead of attempting such a power grab in Congress, the U.S. Department of the Air Force should work with the affected governors to build up the Space Force in a way that is consistent with federal law," Abbott added in the letter.

more to come ....







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