By Kristina Wong - 04/15/14 12:47 PM EDT
National Guard supporters are pushing back against the Army's proposal to cut the guard force of 350,000 down to 335,000 by 2017.
In a Tuesday statement titled "Why Are Army Leaders So Afraid of a Commission," the National Guard Association of the United States accused Army leaders of refusing to create a commission that could show reserve force are cheaper to maintain than those on active duty.
“Nothing seems more distasteful to Army leaders these days than the notion of Congress creating a commission to take an outside look at how best to structure the force for 2020 and beyond," wrote NGAUS's president Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr.
Creating a commission could effectively delay any cuts to the National Guard until recommendations are issued.
During a congressional hearing last week, National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Frank Grass endorsed the idea of a commission, saying "it never hurts to have another look."
Army officials say the cuts to the National Guard are needed to avoid cutting more from the active side, which is slated to go from about 510,000 currently to 450,000 by 2017, and possibly lower.
The Army also plans to transfer the National Guard's attack helicopters to the active duty Army, in exchange for transport Black Hawks.
“An unbiased review also would show that shifting all of the Army National Guard’s Apache attack helicopters to the active component saves no money while squandering the Total Army’s most experienced Apache pilots and maintainers," Hargett said.
The House Armed Services Committee is slated to finish drafting the National Defense Authorization Act as early as next week, which could affect whether the cuts happen. A final bill is not scheduled to be complete until at least next month.