Army Commission Bill Needs Revision

Washington Report

(April 22, 2014) The bill that would create a commission to study the structure of the Army is being revised to better address the transfer of all AH-64 Apache helicopters in the National Guard to the active component.

The bill, H.R. 3930, was introduced by Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., and has attracted about 170 co-sponsors. It also has the full support of NGAUS, which believes a commission review of the Army would favor an enhanced role for the Guard.

But as the National Commission on the Structure of the Army Act of 2014 now stands, it would not stop the transfer of the Apache helicopters. The bill prohibits the use of fiscal 2015 funds to do so, but the transfer is not planned until the following year. The same is true of the bill's attempt to stop a reduction of the Army Guard's end strength below 350,000.

"The Wilson bill actually doesn't do anything," a congressional source told Inside Defense this week. "There are no planned transfers of National Guard helicopters in FY-15. None. They start in FY-16."

The online story quotes a source as saying the revised bill will seek a report from the commission on Feb. 1, 2016, and freeze the transfer of all Apaches until then. Based on the review, Congress will determine if all or any Apaches will be transferred.

While the Army wants all Apaches taken from the Guard, the National Guard Bureau has recommended that the Guard continue to have six attack reconnaissance battalions, converting two to attack reconnaissance squadrons.