Army: No Overseas Missions for Army Guard

NGAUS Washington Report

(April 23, 2013) Overseas deployments for the Army National Guard and Army Reserve to places like Kosovo and the Sinai may end as the Army looks for ways to save money.

The service’s Office of Legislative Liaison delivered a memo last week to both chambers of Congress citing the Budget Control Act of 2011 and a lack of sufficient funding for overseas contingency operations as the reason to end such missions for the reserve components.

Last month, the Army announced it would not deploy to Afghanistan 950 soldiers from three Indiana Army Guard units, citing budget issues as the reason. The units were already leaning forward when word of the canceled deployments arrived.

Guard leaders openly wondered at the time if that action was the start of a larger trend of shelving reserve-component units. The Army memo indicates that it was.

“Beginning [fiscal 2014], the Army will substitute Active Component units for Reserve Component formations where cost savings are possible,” the memo, which was acquired by NGAUS, reads.

It continues, “The Army is working closely with the Army National Guard and Army Reserve to identify additional opportunities to substitute [active-component] formations for [reserve-component] units.”

But Annie Lively, the NGAUS Army programs manager, says the memo came as a surprise to Guard leaders. She says a long list of the Army’s proposed changes was delivered to the Army Guard late last year for acknowledgement, including the proposal to end overseas deployments.

In its response to the Army, Army Guard leadership agreed to some of the proposals, but opposed ending Guard deployments to places like Kosovo and the Sinai.

Lively says the Army Guard did not see the final proposal that was sent Thursday to Capitol Hill.

The end of OCO missions for the Army Guard would mean a loss of all missions historically fulfilled by citizen-soldiers, including those in Kosovo, the Horn of Africa and the Sinai.

NGAUS sent a response to members of Congress today urging them to oppose any reduction to Guard deployments.

The association says in its response, “This proposal runs counter to the Army’s rhetoric of keeping the Guard and Reserve operational and represents the first major step toward relegating the reserve components back to a strategic reserve.”

The entire response can be read here.

Retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr., the NGAUS president, says the Army’s proposal is short sighted.

“We may save a little money in the short term, but we do so at a potential tremendous cost in the long term,” he says. “The nation invested billions of dollars over the last decade to build an Army Guard that can accomplish these missions.

“Now, when we have an operational Guard that enables us to reduce the size of our standing Army and save billions of dollars, Army officials want to put the Guard back on the shelf. This is nothing more than an attempt to protect the size of the active-component Army.”