The nation's governors on Tuesday urged Congress to reject any personnel or equipment cuts from the Army National Guard, as lawmakers craft the defense bill that authorizes spending and activities in 2016.
"The nation’s governors call on Congress to maintain Army National Guard (ARNG) aircraft, personnel and force structure," said a statement by the National Governors Association (NGA), which represents all governors.
The group said provisions in both the House and Senate bills would allow for the transfer of all remaining Army National Guard Apache attack helicopters to the active-duty Army and cut more than 8,000 personnel.
The cuts would affect an additional 15,000 personnel nationwide, who would need to be reassigned or retrained, it added.
The Pentagon has recommended the National Guard give the active-duty Army its Apache attack helicopters in exchange for unarmed Black Hawks. National Guard leaders worry this would take crucial roles and training away from its pilots.
Governors, who can mobilize the National Guard in their states, oppose the change since it would return the National Guard to the "strategic reserve" and "waste billions of taxpayer dollars that have been invested over the past 13 years," NGA said.
A series of amendments will be offered in the House and Senate to prevent the cuts from moving forward next year.
"Governors implore Congress to pass these amendments and review the Commission’s recommendations thoroughly before the Army makes irreversible changes to the ARNG and its role in combat aviation,” said the group.
The delay would give Congress enough time to receive the recommendations of a congressionally-appointed panel on the Army's future force structure, the group said.
"Governors believe Congress should wait until it has the recommendations of the National Commission on the Future of the Army (Commission) before allowing irreversible changes to the Guard," it said.