|Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that the House Committee on Armed Services has included language in the National defense Authorization Act for FY 2014 requesting the Department of Defense to conduct a feasibility study for establishing a National Guard for both American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). By way of an amendment, Congresswoman Bordallo of Guam was able to include the language for the feasibility study that was accepted en bloc and passed by voice vote by both sides of the Committee during the late mark-up last night.
The establishment of the National Guard has always been an ongoing issue for American Samoa given that it is one of only two U.S. territories or state without a National Guard. Having a National Guard became a priority in the aftermath of the tsunami and earthquake that struck American Samoa in 2009. Because there was no National Guard, former Governor Togiola had to wait for the approval from the Pentagon to activate the local Army Reserve component to help with the disaster.
Last month, Congressman Faleomavaega provided testimony before the House Committee on Armed Services where he requested the Committee to include language for a feasibility study for a National Guard in American Samoa. The Committee decided to include CNMI because it did not have a National Guard as well.
In his recent visit to Washington, D.C. earlier this year, Lt. Governor Lemanu discussed the issue of a National Guard as a priority with Congressman Faleomavaega.
“This is the first and necessary step in providing for a National Guard for American Samoa,” Faleomavaega stated. “Given the remote location of our Territory and the constant threat of natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis, I strongly believe that the immediate aid of a National Guard as the first responders will greatly help our people during time of crisis.”
The National Guard has been a part of our U.S. military history for hundreds of years. The National Guard is a vital component of public safety for their role as the first responders during state of emergencies and supporting our regular armed forces during time of war.
“I know that the House Committee on Armed Services understands deeply the sense of service and contributions that the American Samoa has made to our U.S. military. Being one of the highest enlistment rates per capita in any State or U.S. Territory, our sons and daughters have served in record numbers in every U.S. military engagement from World War II to our present operations in Afghanistan. We have stood by the U.S. in good times and bad, and I know that taking this initial step in establishing a National Guard in American Samoa will make our relationship even stronger.”
“I want to express my sincere appreciation to my good friend, Congresswoman Bordallo of Guam, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Readiness, for her understanding and support for our territories. Also, I want to thank Chairman McKeon and Ranking Member Smith of the House Committee on Armed Services for their staunch leadership in ensuring that our military is provided for and that our troops have the necessary equipment and supplies in order to fulfill their mission.”
“I will update our people as the Congress considers this important legislation in the coming months,” Faleomavaega concluded.
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