Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 25, 2014

The Quest to Protect the Newest Member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

At the beginning of 2012, the head of the National Guard Bureau joined the Joint Chiefs of Staff over the objections of top Pentagon brass, in a move that amounted to a coup for the National Guard’s profile. This January, he started getting the same level of continuous physical protection and security afforded to the other leaders with access to the nation’s most sensitive military secrets — after it took two years to get the application and paperwork completed.A provision in the Senate’s version of the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill would mandate that continuous protection by law.

“There are a handful of senior DOD officials who are specified in statute to receive personal security and protection,” said a spokeswoman for Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., Tara Andringa, via e-mail. “Other current and former DOD officials can only receive such protection if the Secretary certifies that it is needed. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are specified in statute. Since the Chief of the National Guard Bureau is now a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it is appropriate that he now be designated in statute, in the same manner as the other Chiefs.”

The leader of the National Guard was elevated to the Joint Chiefs in the fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Special Agent Edward Kawamura, with the Chief of the National Guard’s security detail, explained the current level of protection for Gen. Frank J. Grass thusly: “A security team had been assigned to the Chief of the National Guard back in January of this year,” he said. “The Chief shares the same level of security as the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff here at the Pentagon.”

And before January?

“Once the position is recognized in the NDAA and changes to laws become final then we do a Personal Security Vulnerability Assessment (PSVA) on each principal to determine level of security needed then it is signed off by SECDEF and teams are notified of their new mission,” Kawamura said via e-mail, referring to the secretary of Defense. “This process from beginning to end is a good 2+ yrs of paperwork and application.”

(h/t CQ Roll Call’s Frank Oliveri)

  • Frank Oliveri

    One wonders at this point, if it takes two years to do a Personal Security Vulnerability Assessment, does that mean that every new member of the JCS must wait two years before they get a security detail? That seems odd since these posts typically last about four years, meaning these folks are exposed to some of the nation’s most important secrets, but half the time in the job they’re unprotected…and it’s war time.

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