Army Guard Faces Tough Fight on Hill

Washington Report

(April 29, 2014) The Army National Guard must wage its fight to preserve its end strength and combat aviation on an unfriendly battlefield, according to a report this week in a publication that covers Capitol Hill.

Congressional Quarterly says some members of Congress are not buying the Army Guard's argument that cuts to its size and helicopter fleet are too deep and would damage the force's ability to remain operational.
 
The publication quotes a Senate aide as saying, "The Army is making budget-driven decisions and they made a strong, good-faith effort to inflict the cuts pretty equally across the active and Guard components."
 
The story notes that Congress has been friendly to the Guard since 9/11, especially with equipment purchases, but also says some in Congress believe shielding the Guard now from the painful budget cuts is "simply too much."
 
NGAUS supports legislation now in the House that would create a panel to look at the Army structure and prevent cuts to the force and the helicopter fleet until the panel's report has been filed in early 2016. The article says similar legislation is being created in the Senate.
 
But the bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., lacks important support and is seen as a negotiating position, the article says.

Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, the Delaware adjutant general and the immediate past NGAUS chairman, told Congressional Quarterly, "This battle is going to be won or lost on Capitol Hill."
 
Meanwhile, another publication, National Defense, says the Army plan to remove all Apache helicopters from the Army Guard makes sense to many analysts.
 
"I think it is a good proposal that the Army is trying to do here," Benjamin Freeman, a national security policy adviser at Third Way, said recently. "I think it's good for the county and I think it's good for the Total Force."
 
Daniel Goure, vice president at the Lexington Institute, called the commission in Wilson's bill "a delaying tactic." He said removing the Apaches and replacing them with Black Hawks "doesn't take the Guard out of combat" as has been suggested by the Guard and Guard advocates.