NGAUS Washington Report
(Feb. 25, 2014) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s rollout of the Pentagon budget Monday prompted quick and angry responses from several quarters. Especially targeted were plans to cut to the size of the Army National Guard, the transfer of AH-64 Apache helicopters from the Guard and the retirement of the entire A-10 Thunderbolt fleet.
NGAUS is “disappointed, but hardly surprised,” according to a statement from retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett Jr., the association president. Read the statement here.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill had similar reactions, signaling rough seas ahead for the budget.
Thirteen senators from both sides of the aisle signed a letter sent to Hagel soon after the announcement decrying the Guard cuts.
“This shortsighted approach creates unnecessary risk to our national security at the expense of incredibly capable attack aviation assets in the Army National Guard,” they wrote.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said, “It is greatly disappointing that even after more than a decade of overseas deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon refuses to recognize the versatility and effectiveness of the National Guard.”
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., vowed to fight the budget proposal on the A-10.
“As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I plan to work with my colleagues to prevent the Pentagon from making this serious mistake that I believe could cost the lives of our brave servicemen and women in future conflicts,” she said in a statement Monday.
Her husband was an A-10 pilot.
Others reacted to other parts of the budget, such as plans to reduce health-care costs by implementing fee hikes for users and cutting $1 billion from the commissary subsidy.
Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., decried what he said was an attempt to solve the country’s financial problems “on the backs of the military.”