U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today announced that he joined a bipartisan group of 18 senators in introducing the National Commission on the Future of the Army Act, which establishes an independent panel responsible for analyzing the major changes to the U.S. Army proposed in the President's budget.
As the military continues to downscale with the end of combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army has proposed a 10 percent reduction in National Guard personnel, and removes the Guard's Apache helicopters as part of its Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget request. A national Commission on Army Force Structure would freeze cuts to personnel and equipment for the Army National Guard for two years while the Commission works to make a more balanced decision.
"As a former Governor, I know firsthand the incredible value of our National Guard," Senator Manchin said. "These dedicated men and women have performed admirably alongside active units not only throughout the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in countless regions around the world. That is why I remain concerned that the Army's proposed cuts and modifications to the National Guard threaten to diminish their capabilities as a vital piece of America's combat reserve force. Our nation is facing tremendous budgetary pressures and I cannot accept that cutting our most efficient and cost effective fighting forces is the correct course of action. I believe that the Army's proposal does not account for the true value of the National Guard and emphasizes short-term gains. I support an unbiased examination by a commission, external to the Department of Defense, and I hope that a thorough investigation will provide clarity and strengthen the Army's combat power."
The Commission legislation will allow several of the Army's proposed cost-avoidance measures to move forward, while permitting time for the Commission to study the major changes that have been proposed. In addition to tasking the Commission with considering overall size and force mix of the Army, the senators in the bill ask for an evaluation of force generation assumptions.
In addition to Senator Manchin, the legislation is cosponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), James E. Risch (R-Idaho), Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), John E. Walsh (D-Mont.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.).