Local News

March 15, 2014

Don't cut National Guard strength

They’re crucial to have around in emergencies. And Iowa National Guard members have performed exceptionally when called on to go to foreign battlefields.

That’s why we’re backing Gov. Terry Branstad and the other 49 governors who want the Defense Department to leave National Guard cuts out of planned force reductions.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently laid out the administration’s plans to cut personnel, close bases and eliminate some vehicle programs. Included was the National Guard, but Col. Greg Hapgood of the Iowa Guard said the political process usually takes 60 to 90 days to shake out. Thus, the fate of Iowa’s 7,200 Army National Guard members remains up in the air.

Branstad, though, wasted little time going on the defense. He was in Washington, D.C., for the National Governor’s Association meeting and was able to meet with President Obama to let him know how he felt.

Obama was “a little defensive” and “talked about how they had to cut spending and all that,” Branstad said.

But he did get the attention of Vice President Joe Biden, who has a son in the Delaware National Guard and said he wanted to follow up with Branstad.

The governor’s arguments are sound. A major point was the Guard is much less expensive and more efficient — something proven at home and overseas. Thus, the reduction should be in the regular Army and not the Guard, the governor said.

“The governors are pretty much united on this,” he said.

Meanwhile, the National Guard Association of the United States released a statement from its president, retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett, who said that for more than 10 years the Army and Air National Guard units have been “nothing less than integral to the Army and Air Force accomplishing their missions around the globe.”

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