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Lean times at the Pentagon pit active-duty Army against National Guard

REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
How do you get more Apache helicopters for the active-duty Army when you don't have the money to buy them? Take them from the National Guard.

Congress caused this fight in the first place by allowing sequestration to take effect two years ago, a fact not lost on lawmakers themselves.

Legislators grudgingly signed off on sequestration in 2011, hoping the threat of blind, across-the-board caps on both domestic and defense spending would push them toward a broader deficit reduction package. They failed, and the caps became law in 2013.

Today, sequestration is a common source of angst on Capitol Hill, on both sides of the aisle. Simply put, no one likes sequestration and would rather do away with it — if only there were consensus on what to do in its place.

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Comments (4)

If I were King

I would return the National Guard to its traditional role of defenders of their state, available to the governor for state emergencies.

The active duty Army should be the only force of the two who is engaged in actual foreign combat. If the active duty army isn't big enough for that task, increase the size through more enlistments.

Convert all of the existing combat forces in the Army, Marines and Navy (SEALs) to Special Forces with Navy SEAL-type training and preparation. Flunk the course and you cook, drive a truck or go home.

Eliminate all naval vessels in the fleet other than aircraft carriers, submarines and tenders/supply ships. All other ships were designed to fight battles at sea which is an obsolete concept.

Phase out all military dependents and their associated costs by moving to an all non-married armed forces. Personnel currently serving will be unaffected. After it goes into full effect, if you want to get married or in the case of women, have a baby, you get out first.

The armed forces would become a lean, mean fighting machine where every member was combat ready and ready to jump into a fight on short notice.

And the cost savings would be 30-40%.

One pertinent question

Why are National Guard units – never intended to serve as active-duty combat units except in case of actual attack – deployed in the Middle East?

My bias is to return the Guard to the "weekend warrior" status they used to enjoy, complete with obsolescent equipment. They ought to be the people called into temporary duty to fill sandbags during a flood, restore and maintain order during a natural catastrophe like a big tornado or 30-inch blizzard, and similar sorts of roles.

Let the Army be the Army. If there aren't enough combat troops to meet the commitments we've made, perhaps we ought to take a second look, or third, or fourth, at those commitments. Or, lacking that, reinstate conscription, so we can ramp up the forces when necessary, and decommission them when the need has passed.

We might also consider the quaint notion of Congress actually authorizing military action, rather that letting the Emperor-du-jour… excuse me… the President, unilaterally initiate a war via his Commander-in-Chief powers.

Yeah, yeah, I've not forgotten about modern technology and the speed of the modern world, but it seems to me we had ample time prior to our latest Middle Eastern adventures for Congress to actually do what it's constitutionally supposed to do. Instead, we had propaganda from the White House and a Congress that essentially abdicated. Power abhors a vacuum, so when Congress dithered, the President happily seized the opportunity, and the current occupant has continued that rather short-lived tradition.

Me three

I never was happy with the way they somehow segued the state-level Guard into additional overseas fighting units. It was a sneaky move, and it's high time to return the National Guard to being what it's supposed to be - National. Right here in the United States. Period.

DoD budget management

Perhaps if we didn't spend hundreds of billions on the F-35 fighter that just does not perform well enough for combat

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2014/07/14/pentagons-big-budget-f-...

or spend huge amounts on M1 series tanks we don't need

http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/07/28/12991946-the-m1-abram...

the US Army and state national guards would not have to arm-wrestle to have enough helicopters.