In a rare case of unanimity, the nation's governors said Friday they are prepared to fight a Pentagon plan that would greatly reduce the number of Army National Guard soldiers available to respond to national emergencies.
In a letter issued issued to President Obama, the governors of all 50 states said that they strongly oppose proposed cuts to the Army National Guard called for in the budget blueprint outlined by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this week.
The Pentagon unveiled a plan to trim the number of its Army National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers from 557,000 to 530,000. Defense Department officials warned that the number could be further reduced if the Pentagon "sequestration" budget cuts in 2016.
Currently, the Army National Guard has 355,000 soldiers and the Army Reserve has 205,000 soldiers. Under the Pentagon's fiscal 2015 recommendations, those numbers would shrink to 335,000 Army National Guard soldiers and 195,000 Army Reserve soldiers.
The governors described the cuts as “a pre-2001 strategic reserve construct” and called for keeping Army National Guard at a level of at least 350,000.
“The modern National Guard is a highly experienced and capable combat force and an essential state partner in responding to domestic disasters and emergencies,” the letter states. “A return to a pre-9/11 role squanders the investment and value of the Guard and discredits its accomplishments at home and as an active combat force.”
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