Senators to Hagel: Stop Guard Cuts

NGAUS Washington Report

(Feb. 18, 2014) Sen. Roy. Blunt, R-Mo., is seeking the signatures of his Senate colleagues on a letter asking Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to resolve the squabble between the Army and the Army National Guard over force structure and aviation assets for the Guard that will likely be part of the fiscal 2015 budget request.

“We are confident that a resolution can be reached,” the letter states, but threatens congressional action if discussions fail to find an answer.

The letter is addressing a proposal by the Army to reduce the Guard end strength to 315,000 and remove much of the force’s aviation fleet, including all AH-64 Apache helicopters. The Army Guard wants a force of 350,000 and to retain its rotary-wing aircraft.

“This shortsighted approach creates unnecessary risk to our national security at the expense of incredibly capable attack aviation assets in the Army National Guard,” the letter continues.

Hagel is asked to find an answer that “fully takes into account national security needs as well as state domestic response obligations.”

Without a solution, the senators tell Hagel, “Congress will look for ways to ensure that the Total Army is balanced in ways that meet our nation’s security interests, now and in the future, that take into account Total Army requirements, capabilities and costs.”

The lawmakers say they would also prevent the transfer and retirement of the aviation force.

The senators note the investment made in the Guard to create an operational and necessary force, saying, “To squander these investments would be an incredibly shortsighted mistake.”