Potential budget cuts to the Army National Guard have received opposition from 50 governors across the country, including Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett.
A letter signed by the governors asking President Obama to reconsider the cuts was delivered to the White House on Feb. 28. In the letter, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin wrote that the cuts “suggest a pre-2001 strategic reserve construct,” which would take funding back to levels it was it before the September 11 attacks.
“The modern National Guard is a highly experienced and capable combat force and an essential state partner in responding to domestic disasters and emergencies,” Fallin wrote. “A return to a pre-9/11 role squanders the investment and value of the Guard and discredits its accomplishments at home and as an active combat force.”
Jay Pagni, press secretary for Corbett, said the cuts would “threaten” hundreds of thousands of guardsmen across the country by minimizing squadrons and regimens.
Corbett wants the U.S. Department of Defense to maintain the number of active guardsmen in Pennsylvania, according to Pagni.
“The wars overseas are over, but the National Guard plays a vital role in protecting the homeland,” Pagni said. “It is in that time of natural disaster, in that time of weather-related emergency, that we do rely on our national guardsmen.”
Pagni said the National Guard has risen to serve Pennsylvania several times, including in 2011 when Hurricane Sandy flooded parts of the state.
“The National Guard proudly came up, was called up, and responded to those emergencies around the commonwealth,” Pagni said.
In a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in early January, Corbett directly voiced his opposition to proposed cuts. The governor proposed that Hagal keep the number of current force National Guard soldiers at 350,000.
“The Army National Guard is a vital part of our national defense and I urge you to maintain our forces at its current complement,” Corbett wrote.