Grass Welcomes Army Commission

Washington Report

(April 8, 2014) Gen. Frank J. Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, told lawmakers today that an outside examination of the structure of the Army is not a bad idea.

"Who would not want an independent look?" Grass said this morning at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the mix of the Army force structure. "This committee is going to have to help us through this. I would think you'd want an independent look, as well."

At issue is legislation that would create a commission to review the proper structure of the Army, including the National Guard and Reserve, much like how a commission looked at the Air Force.

Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, disagreed, citing time constraints that would cost money and delay Army plans to reduce its expenses.

"We estimate if it was delayed, it would cost $1 billion a year," he said.

He was referring to an Army plan to lower the Army end strength to 315,000 and remove all Apache helicopters from the Guard. Both moves are attempts, the Army says, to save money. Grass has said he wants to keep the Army Guard end strength at 345,000.

Earlier this year, Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., introduced H.R. 3930, a House measure that would create an independent commission. That bill, which NGAUS supports, has more than 160 cosponsors.

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, the chief of the Army Reserve, disagreed with the commission for a different reason. He says the recent commission process on the Air Force side is a cautionary tale, since one of the body's recommendations was to fully integrate the Air Force Reserve command. He emphasized that if a commission does go forward, no one should draw parallels between the two services.