A Reduction of Military Forcesby Representative Keith J. Rothfus
Posted on 2014-01-16
ROTHFUS. I would like to thank my good friend and fellow
Pennsylvanian (Mr. Perry) for hosting this important discussion.
As my colleague Congressman Dent noted, it is Colonel Perry who in 2008 left the comforts of our country to serve in Iraq. His chief, Lauren Muglia, also is with the National Guard and went overseas for our country.
I rise today in support of the Pennsylvania National Guard and, in particular, the brave soldiers who serve in the 1-104th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, based in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Their future, like that of many other National Guard units across the Commonwealth, is being placed in serious jeopardy as part of the Army's most recent force structure plan.
Major General Wesley Craig, the adjutant general for the Pennsylvania National Guard, put it best when he wrote in a letter to the editor that recently appeared in one of our local newspapers, the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, that the 1-104th is ``under attack.'' In fact, Major General Craig's letter encapsulates this issue so well that I would like to read it into the Record now.
Major General Craig writes: Johnstown battalion is under attack.
The more than 250 members of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's 1-104th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, based in Johnstown, may lose their Apache helicopters and a number of them could be furloughed if the Army has its way.
These are the same highly trained soldiers who recently returned from a year-long deployment in Afghanistan, where they provided aerial support using AH-64 Apache helicopters fighting side-by-side with their active component counterparts.
The Army wants to restructure its aviation fleet by divesting itself from Kiowa helicopters and replacing them with Apache helicopters taken from the Army National Guard.
Consequentially, the removal of 24 Apaches from our inventory in Johnstown will render the 1-104th a nonmission- capable force when it comes to defending our Nation at home and abroad.
In turn, the Army proposes to replace the Apaches with only 12 other aircraft--a 50 percent reduction in the number of aircraft that we have in Johnstown.
Detrimental actions like this prove that the National Guard is still considered ``second-rate'' by the Active component despite us demonstrating our competence and effectiveness over the last 11 years of war.
Taking away highly trained personnel and equipment from the Reserve component--which cost a fraction of what it does in the Active component to operate--does not make sense for our community, Commonwealth or country.
Major General Craig concludes: Having worn the uniform for more than 40 years, I, too, have been trained to fight; and fight I will for the skilled and courageous troops of our Nation's reserve forces.
Signed, Major General Wesley E. Craig, Adjutant General, Pennsylvania National Guard.
Mr. Speaker, there are better options than this. Let us commit to working together to ensure that the National Guard units like the 1- 104th continue to receive the support they have earned and deserve.