Army Defends Move to Strip Guard of Apaches
Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno said the proposal would help the service avoid some $12 billion in costs — a significant level of savings in an era of automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.
“It’s about the budget,” Odierno said on Thursday during a hearing of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. “The issue is, we can no longer afford to sustain the amount of aircraft that we have.”
Under the plan, the Army would retire the OH-58 Kiowas and use Apaches for the armed scout and reconnaissance mission instead. Because the service lacks money to buy enough of the attack helicopters to do both missions, it would transfer the Guard’s entire fleet of 192 Apaches to the active component. In return, the Guard would receive 111 UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters from the active component.
In addition to Apaches, the Guard would also lose 30 OH-58D Kiowa Warriors and as many as 104 UH-72 Lakotas.
The proposed aviation overhaul has stirred controversy among Guard leaders and lawmakers, including Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., a retired colonel in the Arkansas Army National Guard.
Besides creating a “contentious debate” between the active and reserve components, “I just think it’s flawed from a sense that we have taken some of our strategic depth out of the Reserve Component that we believe is a very important component in our ability to prosecute missions around the world,” Womack said of the idea.
Odierno acknowledged it was a difficult decision. He noted that the active component is losing three aviation brigades, while the reserve component isn’t losing any. He also pointed out that Black Hawks flew more than any other combat aircraft during the last decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It is the centerpiece of everything we do,” he said. “I need that capability in the Guard.”
Womack agreed that the utility helicopter will better serve governors and adjutants general during emergencies and natural disasters, but questioned the wisdom of using the Apache for the scout mission and suggested there was a better way to restructure the aviation fleets.
McHugh said the Army will follow the will of Congress, but warned that maintaining the status quo will force the service to find the $12 billion elsewhere in the budget.
“That’s a lot of money,” he said. “That’s a lot of end-strength. That’s a lot of readiness.”
Tags: AH-64, Apache, Army, John McHugh, Kiowa Warrior, Lakota, OH-58, Raymond Odierno, Steve Womack, UH-72
Like the retirement of the A-10 this shows military narrow mindedness and greed as they want AAS no matter what. Hope this Budget fails to pass BIG TIME.
Guard is losing its Kiowas just like the AC, and I guess the Lakotas are going too since only the Guard has them. Won't flying more expensive helicopters like the Blackhawk instead of the Lakota add flight costs to the guard? Isn't that why they wanted a smaller helicopter in the first place?
What's not mentioned is the plan to use drones to augment Apaches. Who and what is paying for the drones?
Yet there will still be claims of unfairness in 3...2...1...
(and I'll get a bunch of negatives for telling the uncomfortable truth)
Our military is OVERSIZED for the task its assigned. It doens't need to be EVERYWHERE! Its only job is to defend the homeland, which is set between two ocean barriers. How tough is that? We need a military to what? Invade China? Leave China to itself. It's army can't cross the ocean without us sending it to the bottom of the Pacific. That should have been our strategy in Vietnam.
What has happened to our once great nation? Oh yes, Owebama was elected twice - that says it all. Enjoy it while your can Vlad.