Indiana National Guard delays drills, unable to pay

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana National Guard is delaying weekend drills for thousands of soldiers because they can’t afford to pay them. Drills are delayed several weeks to the end of the month.

The Indiana National Guard told I-Team 8 that 76 units are affected by the postponing of drills. That is a direct impact on nearly 4,000 Indiana soldiers and their families. The state would have paid $2.4 million for September training but now Indiana soldiers will have delayed paychecks.

The delayed drills could eventually be canceled for October due to a $101 million budget shortfall. The Indiana Guard says it gave back $1.9 million to the National Guard Bureau to help cover the shortfall. The shortfall happened when guard deployments were canceled after the troop draw down in Afghanistan, which put more troops home for monthly drills. Indiana joins 17 other states in postponing drills as the guard now tries to re-direct money to cover continued training.

“All states turned in a different amount,” said Lt. Col. Cathy Van Bree from Joint Force Headquarters-Indiana. “We have had to cancel some training (out of state) for military schools, most out of state travel and many in and out of state conferences.”

Van Bree said the Indiana National Guard Airmen are not affected.

Capt. John D. Fesler from the National Guard Bureau provided the following questions and answers to I-Team 8:

Q1. What is the funding shortfall?

A1. A shortfall of $101 million in National Guard Personnel, Army (NGPA) 2060 appropriation is estimated. These are federal funds provided for pay of personnel training within the current fiscal year.

Q2. How did this happen?

A2. Each year as the fiscal year comes to a close we take careful and deliberate steps to ensure every dollar is well spent within the limits of our budget, and not go over budget. This year some unusual and unforeseen circumstances contributed to higher-than-normal expenditure rates across the Guard. Among them, fewer mobilizations, higher than planned training attendance, and historical high pass rates at schools contributed to slightly higher expenditures — and the resulting year-end shortfall.

Q3. What options are being looked at to mitigate the shortfall?

A3. A number of things are being done to mitigate the shortfall and minimize the impact to troops and readiness. Immediate actions include suspending travel, rescheduling drill, and identifying all end-of-year surplus funds while NGB seeks approval to reprogram other available year-end funds.

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