Senator Blunt, Colleagues Express “Deep Concern” Surrounding National Guard Cuts
February 24, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) and a bipartisan group of 12 of his colleagues sent a letter to U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Secretary Chuck Hagel today to express their “deep concern with the Department of the Army’s proposal to cut Army National Guard combat aviation assets and force structure.” To read the entire letter, please click here.
The Senators urged Hagel to bring each side back to the table with the goal of producing a reasonable solution that fully takes into account national security needs as well as state domestic response obligations. Blunt is a member of both the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee and Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.
“We write to express our deep concern with the Department of the Army’s proposal to cut Army National Guard combat aviation assets and force structure,” the Senators wrote. “This shortsighted approach creates unnecessary risk to our national security at the expense of incredibly capable attack aviation assets in the Army National Guard.”
“We strongly recommend that you work with the Army and the National Guard on a solution that fully takes into account national security needs as well as state domestic response obligations. We are confident that a resolution can be reached,” the Senators continued. “We believe the National Guard can be part of a cost effective security solution that retains affordable security for peacetime as well as the ability to respond to unforeseen, future contingencies.”
In addition to Blunt, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Bob Casey (Pa.), John Cornyn (Texas), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Mike Lee (Utah), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Jim Risch (Idaho), and Tim Scott (S.C.).
The 35th Combat Aviation Brigade has three units located in Missouri. Under the Army's current plan, all three units would be impacted.
· 1-135th Aviation Battalion, located at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., conducts attack, reconnaissance and security operations that compliment other maneuver forces. This unit has 24 AH-64 D Apache Longbow attack helicopters assigned to it.
· 3-135th Theater Aviation Battalion, located in Lebanon, Mo., provides mission command, administration and logistics support.
· 935th Aviation Support Battalion, located in Springfield and Warrensburg, Mo., provides maintenance, maneuver, signal and logistics support for the 35th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB).
· In all, there are 402 MO Army National Guard aviation personnel assigned across the state.
· Warrensburg Detachment: $5,277,284 economic impact; 96 assigned
· Lebanon: $3,346,518 economic impact; 87 assigned
· Springfield: 11,363,764 economic impact; 186 assigned
· Total Economic Impact: $33,978,862
Recently, the 1-135th Aviation Battalion was selected to receive the 2013 Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) “John J. Stanko Army National Guard Aviation Unit of the Year Award.”