Responding to remarks made by Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, and a controversial plan to restructure Army aviation assets, a coalition of Democratic and Republican representatives spoke out last week against potential cuts to Army National Guard end strength and drastic restructuring of the Army Guard’s helicopter fleet.
The bipartisan group, led by Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., praised the service Army and Air National Guardsmen performed during the past 12 years of conflict while urging the Army to reconsider the proposed reductions in end strength. Perry described the Army’s proposal for the National Guard as “drastic” and that it “will put the Guard on the back shelf as a strategic reserve.”
Other members were much more blunt. “The recent comments by Army leadership are as ridiculous as anything I have seen in quite some time,” said Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss. Palazzo continued, “In a transparent effort to protect their own, they have effectively thrown the men and women of the National Guard out with the bath water.”
Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., suggested cutting the Army Guard “to its lowest level in 50 years would not only weaken our national security and homeland defenses,” but makes very little sense from a fiscal and strategic perspective “as personnel costs for Guardsmen are roughly one-third the cost of active component personnel.” Others echoed Rahall’s comments on the cost-effectiveness of the National Guard, numbers which have been backed up by a 2013 study by the Reserve Forces Policy Board.
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