TN National Guard expects impact from Army cuts

A new budget proposal calls for the smallest Army our nation has seen in decades.

Monday Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel discussed his plan to help the Pentagon save money in the next few years. The secretary is calling on the army to cut 80,000 troops. The National Guard and Reserve would lose about 30,000 soldiers. The budget also includes scrapping expensive planes, weapons, and bases.

In East Tennessee, the cuts have the potential to be painful for the Tennessee National Guard. Major General Max Haston is in Washington D.C. this week fighting against the proposed cuts.

"We've already taken significant reductions in the Air National Guard to the tune of about 200-250 people and now we're getting ready to look at what's going to happen to the Army National Guard," Haston said.

Major General Haston is already worried about the Budget Control Act, which is also known as sequestration, potentially costing them thousands of jobs.

"If the worst case in the Budget Control Act takes place, the state of Tennessee could lose anywhere from 8-12% of its national guardsmen," Haston said.

The Army is also phasing out the National Guard's attack helicopters. The 1-230th Air Cavalry Unit, recently deployed to Afghanistan, will likely lose their Kiowa Warrior helicopters when they return.

On top of that, Major General Haston he does not think this budget gives them enough manpower.

"That concerns me for the security of this nation - to make sure we are able to defend this nation abroad and here at home. These cuts will surely migrate somewhat to the reserve component," Haston said.

The scholar in resident at University of Tennessee Center for the Study of War and Society said a reduction in forces is typical throughout history during peace time. Capt. Rosemary Mariner, U.S. Navy retired, said the cutting of troops is similar to what happened after the Cold War. She said it remained at those levels until 9/11.

For Army recruiters, they say the news has little impact at this point.

"I had someone come in this morning asking about the draw-down, the cuts, and all of the things that have been proposed. I told him, 'We're still enlisting people. We still need qualified men and women,'" said Major Jared Hull, commander of the Knoxville Army recruiting division.

Major Hull said the Knoxville region has no problem meeting its monthly goal of enlisting 30 soldiers a month.

"We see a lot of success here, a lot of military families and a lot of veterans," he said.

Until they receive word from higher up, they will continue recruiting at the same pace.

Congress must approve the budget before any of the cuts can take place.


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