National Guard group protests Air Force cuts

“The Air Force’s definition of ‘balanced’ cuts tilts heavily against the nation’s most experienced and cost-effective flying units,” said retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr., NGAUS president. “This not only squanders the opportunity to leverage the Air Guard to retain combat capability at a time when reductions must be made, it reduces the Air Force’s ability to quickly respond to unforeseen contingencies in the future.”

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The Air Force is reducing its forces by nearly 10,000 in the new budget, which includes 3,900 active-duty, 5,100 Guard and 900 reserves, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said Friday.

“We’ve carefully balanced our active and reserve component changes,” Donley said. “We’re fully committed to our total force capability.”

The Guard association, however, said the move “squanders the opportunity to leverage the Air Guard to retain combat capability” and “reduces the Air Force’s ability to quickly respond to unforeseen contingencies in the future.”

Donley said the cuts will affect nearly every state, and acknowledged there are “significant reductions” to the Guard and Reserve.

“We can’t do what we do without our Guard and Reserve and active components all working together,” he said. “So we will get smaller together, but as we get smaller we will get more integrated together.”