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National Guard Chief May Get Fourth Star

Sat., July 19, 1997, midnight

The weekend warriors of the National Guard would get a seat at the table with the nation’s most powerful military leaders if a clause in the Senate defense budget bill becomes law.

Added during a late night of debate this month, the provision would elevate the head of the National Guard bureau from a three-star general to a four-star general and make the position part of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the president’s panel of top military advisers. The bureau chief represents the Army and Air Force branches of the guard.

The plan has the backing of about 50 senators and the National Guard’s active interest group, which argues that the half-million members of the guard have little say in Pentagon budget and war planning despite service in the Persian Gulf and other operations.

The proposal, however, faces strong opposition from Defense Secretary William Cohen and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who call it a radical make-over of how U.S. forces are governed.

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