Lawmakers Support Panel to Study Army

Washington Report

(May 27, 2014) The House of Representatives has included a commission to study the structure of the Army in its version of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act. Plus, the Senate Armed Services Committee has included the panel in its version of the bill, which later this year will be the subject of debate before the full Senate.

Retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett, the NGAUS president, said, "This action represents more progress toward our goal of getting America's Army right for 2020 and beyond."

He called it "a good day for America's Army—all of America's Army."

You can read his full statement at here.

The commission will "undertake a comprehensive study of the structure of the Total Army," according to the bill. This means the Army through 2015 cannot simply transfer all of the Army National Guard's AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to the active component, as the service leaders want to do.

The Senate version allows the transfer of 48 of the nearly 200 Apaches in the force before the commission completes its work.

NGAUS has been advocating for a commission to study the Army structure. Language approved in the House bill originated with Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., who proposed the legislation in January to create the National Commission on the Structure of the Army.

Other provisions of the NDAA are beneficial to the Guard. One would codify the use of the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System by the Air National Guard under Title 32 as a state mission. The bill also would delay the retirement of the A-10 Thunderbolt fighter aircraft and require a study by the Government Accountability Office of the Air Force's other close-air support aircraft.

Also, the NDAA would allow the chief of the National Guard Bureau to recommend the directors of the Army Guard and Air Guard. They are currently recommended by the service chiefs. The president would still have the final say on the nominations.

The House bill will have to be reconciled with the Senate's version before the president is given the chance to sign or veto the legislation. President Barack Obama has indicated that he is unhappy with several provisions that go against the Pentagon's cost-savings measures included in the White House budget.