For many years it was rare for the National Guard to be called to active duty. When that happened, they more often than not were used in their home states, to deal with natural disasters.
But the Guard’s role has changed since Sept. 11, 2001. More and more, Guard units, as well as their fellow citizen-soldiers in the military Reserve, find themselves serving in foreign countries. That is unlikely to change, as the Pentagon relies more and more on the Guard and Reserve.
With that changing role should come more input into the military decision-making process. Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have approved amendments that would provide for that, by expanding the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff to include a representative from the National Guard.
Neither the Joint Chiefs nor the Pentagon as a whole support that. Clearly, they would prefer having control over Guard resources without the complications of a representative from that branch participating in Joint Chiefs decisions.
But members of Congress who understand the Guard’s dual role — within states as well as part of international deployments — are right to insist on the change. President Barack Obama must get behind it and order the Joint Chiefs to prepare another seat at their table.