Guard leader opposes proposed limits
A House bill would restrict who may lead the National Guard
The head of the Hawaii National Guard opposes a House-passed bill that would require future leaders of the state's citizen-militia to have been a member for at least five years.
Army Maj. Gen. Bob Lee, who was picked from the ranks of the Army Reserve four years ago to become the state's adjutant general, said the bill "promotes a National Guard-only mentality" by requiring any potential leaders to have been a member of the state's citizen force.
State Rep. Mark Moses, a Republican who voted against the House bill, views it "as another attempt to take powers away from the governor."
Moses retired from the Marine Corps as a major after 25 years of service and charged that supporters of the bill "were guys who wanted the job and didn't get it. They questioned why the governor had to go outside of the National Guard when she could have picked from those already in the National Guard."
Lee was scheduled to appear before the Senate Education and Military Affairs Committee this afternoon to testify against further action on the measure.
In approving the bill for floor action, the House Labor Committee, chaired by state Rep. Kirk Caldwell, said on Feb. 28 that "44 other states currently have requirements that stipulate that their adjutant general have prior service in their respective National Guard."
The committee reported that "both the active-duty military and Reserve military promote individuals from within their own ranks. Treating personnel serving in the Hawaii Army and Air National Guard equivalent to their active-duty and Reserve counterparts is the right thing to do."
Lee would be exempt from the House bill, whose co-sponsors include state Rep. Mark Takai, a member of the Hawaii Army National Guard.
Current state law requires only that the head of the 6,000-strong Hawaii Army and Air National Guard hold at least the rank of major and have served as a commissioned officer for at least 10 years in any military service.
Lee, in his written testimony, pointed out that such a requirement in state law would have prohibited the appointment of an officer like Gen. Eric "Rick" Shinseki, who retired as Army chief of staff. He lives on the mainland now but might want to return to Hawaii.
"If Gov. Lingle convinced Gen. Eric Shinseki to be the adjutant general, I would immediately resign and step down," Lee said.