Dear Majority Leader Reid, Republican Leader McConnell, Speaker Boehner and Democratic Leader Pelosi:
I am writing to urge your support for the establishment of a National Commission on the Structure of the Army and to express my opposition to the Army National Guard (ARNG) personnel cuts proposed in the Army's Fiscal Year 2015 budget request. While I understand the budget realities our nation and the Army is facing, the Army National Guard is a critical resource for the states, providing both national defense and homeland mission support. The current Army proposal requires more work to adequately balance the need for cost-savings without diminishing the ability of the Army National Guard to provide state mission support.
The impact of the proposed Army budget on our Army National Guard will be substantial. Over the next five years, the proposed budget would result in the loss of 10 percent of current ARNG personnel -- about 35,000 soldiers. In addition, the Army has proposed the elimination of all Apache attack helicopters from the Army National Guard.
The loss of any Army National Guard capacity is especially troubling given the Guard's dual role. In the past decade, nearly 3,000 New Hampshire Army National Guardsmen and women have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, serving admirably alongside their active duty brother and sister soldiers. In addition to these defense missions abroad, the soldiers of the New Hampshire Army National Guard provide crucial assistance to our state during natural disasters and other state emergencies. Over the past five years, New Hampshire has called upon hundreds of its Guardsmen and women to provide vital aid during ice storms, hurricanes and search and rescue missions.
The proposed cuts currently outlined in the Army's 2015 budget request could severely limit our state's ability to respond effectively to disasters and emergencies; further exacerbating existing challenges caused by the New Hampshire Army National Guard's outdated facilities.
The establishment of a National Commission on the Structure of the Army is needed to address these issues. Large-scale cuts to the Army National Guard will have a far-reaching impact on each and every state. Yet, meaningful engagement between state civilian and military leadership and the Department of the Army has not occurred. An unbiased and independent review of the Army force structure is the best option to find a workable solution that accomplishes the shared goal of cost-savings without the loss of important capacity.
Again, I urge you to support the establishment of a National Commission on the Structure of the Army and to consider the impact the current Army proposal will have on Army National Guard capacity. We must all work together to ensure a strong, modernized and cost-effective military force.
With every good wish,
Margaret Wood Hassan