Washington, D.C. – Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch are part of a bipartisan group of Senators calling for an independent commission to study proposed changes in the U.S. Army. The Idaho senators say our nation’s budget challenges have forced the Army and other branches of the U.S. military to make force structure changes, some of which could affect National Guard units, including the Idaho Army National Guard.
Nineteen senators have sponsored the legislation to create a National Commission on the Future of the Army. This independent panel would analyze Army force structure and policies that impact the size and force composition. Based upon its findings, the Commission would recommend to Congress the best structure to meet mission requirements in a time of fiscal austerity.
Currently, the 183rd Aviation Regiment of the Idaho Army National Guard operates sixteen Apache helicopters, eight Blackhawk helicopters and two Lakota aircraft, although the Guard is already authorized for more aircraft. Current Army proposals could result in a different component and mission. Establishing the independent commission would halt the transfer of any Apache aircraft pending completion of the review.
“Our nation’s budget challenges have forced the Army to consider restructuring its Army Aviation units,” said Crapo. “Many Idahoans have contacted me to express their concern that the Army’s current proposals do not adequately consider the national security value and contribution of the Guard and Reserves. I share their view that this Commission is necessary to ensure that the Army’s fiscal constraints do not compromise our military readiness and capability.”
“I fully support an independent commission to review the Army’s decision and make recommendations to Congress,” said Risch. “Although a commission would force a pause in the decision process, a pause is better than a hasty move that could have negative implications on the National Guard and our nation's overall war-fighting ability.”
Senators have already discussed the recommendations of a similar, independent review of the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force’s Chief of Staff, General Mark Welsh, visited Idaho last week to discuss changes that could affect both Gowen Field and the Mountain Home Air Force Base.