Governors may be divided when it comes to carrying out President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul, but they’re united in their opposition to reducing Army National Guard forces.
There’s “unanimity” against cuts among state executives gathered in Washington, D.C., for the National Governors Association’s winter meeting, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe told a crowd of reporters Monday at a Kaiser Health News press conference. He said he expects the subject to come up during a meeting for governors at the White House on Monday.
Beebe’s comments came after Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad urged against the cuts on MSNBC. “The message from all the governors of both parties is: ‘Don’t cut the National Guard,’” he said.
The New York Times first reported the potential for a cutback in troop levels in advance of the release of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s budget proposal for the Pentagon. In the budget Hagel previewed Monday, Army forces would fall to between 440,000 and 450,000 in the years ahead from a peak of 570,000 in the years following the 9/11 attacks. The drawdown, which would reduce forces to their lowest levels since before the World War II buildup, would include National Guard cuts.
Branstad argued that all of those cuts should fall on the regular army, not the National Guard. “That’s the message I’m going to bring to the president if I get an opportunity to ask a question.”
The National Governors Association has long opposed reductions to National Guard forces. Governors command the National Guard forces in their respective states, and those forces are the first military responders to disasters and other emergencies. But they're are also called up by the federal government for deployment abroad, which has fueled resentment among states that question the best use of National Guard forces.
This article was originally published by Governing.