Vitally needed National Guard modernization, especially helicopter assets, have been put on hold thanks to Congress failing to pass real budgets and instead have managed only continuing resolutions now for years. The necessity of having to upgrade Guard helicopters really came into focus in recent weeks as many air units were tasked with providing relief from a series of damaging hurricanes. The Guard is accustomed to using older equipment normally, but in some cases units are flying 40-plus year-old Blackhawk helicopters that have less capability than newer models. And because of the continuing resolution, upgrades to these units are now on hold. Upgrades include cockpit modernization that would enhance pilot capabilities while providing safer instrumentation to fly with. The House has already passed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 — a defense budget — that provides $116 million in National Guard helicopter modernization which would directly impact crews that are flying today. The Senate has yet to take up the NDAA.
Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.