The Iowa National Guard could face cuts as deep as nine-percent under a cost-saving plan being unveiled by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. If approved, that proposal would mean the elimination of up to 650 soldiers out of the current 7,200 troops in the Iowa Guard.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says that’s unacceptable, calling the Guard “instrumental.” “The Guard seems to once again become a punching bag in the Pentagon bureaucracy,” Grassley says. “It’s always the Guard that’s cut, never look at cutting there at the Pentagon.” Our faith in the National Guard is well-placed, Grassley says, as Guard members have participated in every conflict, with some units serving three and four times in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Plus, Grassley adds, members of the Guard do much more than fight wars. “You’ve gotta’ remember that these Guardsmen and women perform vital functions during peacetime,” Grassley says. “Think of the times they’ve responded to floods in Iowa or other natural disasters.” Secretary Hagel’s proposal, which has to be approved by Congress, would cut the active-duty Army from its current strength of 522,000 down to as low as 440,000.
Grassley, a Republican, is joining with Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, and others lawmakers, in calling for a rethinking of the proposal. “I’ve signed on to a letter with several of my colleagues and we’re asking Secretary Hagel to work out an impartial arrangement with the National Guard,” Grassley says. “The Defense Department shouldn’t cut its costs on the backs of a crucial component of our armed forces.”
Hagel’s plan would take the U.S. military force down to its smallest size since before World War Two.