NGAUS: Comments on Apache Move Flawed

Washington Report

(July 15, 2014) The NGAUS president is pointing out the flaws in statements made recently by two high-ranking military members who support the Army's plan to remove AH-64 Apache helicopters from the Army National Guard.

Retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett says the two men miss the point when they say UH-60 Black Hawks are a better fit for states.

He is responding to statements made last week by Adm. William Gortney, who has been nominated to command U.S. Northern Command, and Brig. Gen. Michael Lundy, the commander of the Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, Ala.

In his written testimony for the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gortney said, "Increasing airlift capabilities, such as Black Hawk helicopters, resident in the National Guard, gives governors and the adjutants general ready access to a capability that should improve states' capacity to respond to natural or man-made disasters. In my view, the Apache attack helicopter has limited value when conducting the defense support of civil authorities (DSCA) mission. In a DSCA role, the Apache does not meet the most crucial rotary wing aviation mission needs for airlift to support rapid movement of people and supplies."

Meanwhile, Lundy said, "An AH-64 does nothing for a state. It does not do a mission for a state."

He said Guard units are unable to train with ground troops at home station the way active-component units can. He also said active units can carry more of a load in combat.

"It takes six National Guard battalions to cover what those two [active-component] battalions can cover," he said.

Hargett's response to reporters since those statements were made is clear.

"Of course, Apaches have little utility to most state missions," he said. "Neither do tanks, howitzers or F-16s. These systems are for the war fight. They are in the Guard because this nation has a Total Force policy, which enables us to tap the unique combat expertise resident in the Guard while stretching our defense dollars.

"And the Guard has plenty of Black Hawks. We could use some modernized Black Hawks, but we have the numbers we need. The governors understand this. They also understand the value of the Total Force. That's why they don't support the Army plan."       
Legislation within the House 2015 National Defense Authorization Act would create a commission to study the Army structure to determine, among other things, whether Apaches should reside in the Guard. Nine states now have Guard Apache units.