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Mr. Speaker, I rise to voice my concern about the proposed size of our Army. Our active Army should not be reduced to 420,000 personnel and our National Guard to 315,000 personnel as this represents a substantial risk to our national security policy. Within the Army, I am concerned about the restructuring of the Army Aviation force. This restructuring would represent a significant policy shift away from the Army's, "Total Force Policy.'' It would also negatively impact Army National Guard aviation and the communities in which those units are based.
I fully understand that sequestration has caused the Army to make some very difficult decisions about their future force structure. I do not want to see a repeat of the 1990s when the active and reserve components fought one another for the limited resources available. However, that seems to be the path we are on and it in no way advances our national security. That is why; I begin by asking and imploring my colleagues in the House of Representatives to work together to find a solution to sequestration and repeal this misguided method of reducing spending. It is our Constitutional duty to provide for the common defense and we should not be reducing spending by placing half of the cuts on the back of the Department of Defense when defense spending only represents 15.1 percent of the budget.
Following the Vietnam War, former Chief of Staff of the Army, General Creighton Abrams devised the Total Force Policy. This policy vested much of the Army's reserve combat power in the hands of the Army National Guard. The Army National Guard was meant to be a "mirror image,'' of the active force to the extent possible and to provide strategic depth in times of conflict. Mirror imaging meant that the National Guard would be trained and fielded with the same equipment as the active Army and this proposed aviation restructuring veers away from the total force policy.
There are those that say that Army National Guard aviation currently is not a mirror image of the active force because the structure of units is different. Providing a mirror image of brigade structure is not the point, the National Guard is not resourced or intended to follow the active duty Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) structure. The mirror imaging is in smaller units such as battalions that permit the Army to have strategic depth in its forces so that in wartime, the active units do not have to bear the full brunt of the fight. Without the National Guard and strategic depth, these past 12 years of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq would have broken our Army.
Divesting the Army National Guard of the Apache helicopter is a mistake. The active Army will have all of its attack and scout aviation power in the active force with no strategic depth and no reserve relief available if we find ourselves engaged in another major conflict. Enormous amounts of training dollars will be wasted. Years of aviation and combat experience will have been squandered.
Our National Guard Apache pilots are amongst the finest in the world. In my home state of South Carolina, the 1st of the 151st (1-151) attack reconnaissance battalion is one of the best attack battalions in the Army. There operational tempo is not as high as the active Army and it gives them a chance to train on critical skills that active duty simply does not have time for with the fight ongoing in Afghanistan. The 1-151st recently began to train its pilots on how to land an Apache on a Navy ship. Prior to these pilots becoming qualified, the Army did not have one single Apache pilot currently qualified to perform deck landings. Now however, the pilots of the 1-151 are helping to train the rest of the Army on this difficult and important task.
In closing, the battle we have is with sequestration. The active and reserve components should not be fighting one another; we in Congress should be providing them the necessary resources they require. We need to resource the Army at a level that protects our national security and keeps our personnel levels at the necessary levels, and keeps our equipment in the reserve and active components modernized and ready.
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