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New York to join lobbying efforts against proposed Army National Guard cuts

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New York will join the lobbying effort against a proposed cut of 20,000 soldiers in the Army National Guard as part of the 2015 defense budget.

A representative of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s office said the office is drafting a letter opposing the cuts and is planning to lobby against the changes in Washington.

About 10,500 soldiers make up the state’s Army National Guard. Of that total, about 250 belong to units in the north country, with most of that total at Fort Drum, along with a smaller contingent in Ogdensburg.

During his outline of the 2015 defense budget on Feb. 24, Defense Secretary Charles Hagel called for a reduction in the Army National Guard from 355,000 soldiers to 335,000. If full sequestration budget cuts return in 2016, the Guard would reduce its numbers further, to 315,000.

Mr. Hagel noted that the cut, about 5 percent of the Guard, is smaller than the planned 13 percent reduction in active-duty soldiers, from about 522,000 soldiers to between 440,000 and 450,000 soldiers.

Gov. Cuomo’s letter in opposition will come in addition to a letter from the National Governor’s Association last week that including the signatures of 50 state and territorial governors that opposed the reduction and called instead for a national study of Army force size. Gov. Cuomo, who was not at the meeting, did not sign it.

One bill currently working its way through Congress, HR 3930, would require that cuts to the Guard end at 350,000 soldiers, pending the formation of a force size research commission.

U.S. Rep. William L. Owens said he didn’t support the legislation as it was currently written, calling it “very broad.” He said he was concerned that restricting cuts in the Guard could mean further cuts in the active-duty force, potentially hurting Fort Drum.

“We have to find a balance, making sure we don’t injure Fort Drum, and making sure we keep the Army National Guard at a reasonable strength,” Mr. Owens said.

However, he sai,d there is a lot of time until final decisions will be made by Congress, and new proposals from Congress may end up reducing the cuts at all levels of the Army.

He said the lingering question is how military planners will integrate active duty, Guard and Army Reserve personnel into the future.

“I don’t think DOD has come up with the right plan,” he said.

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