Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, says he and other governors of both parties have a message for President Obama when they meet with him on Monday: “Don’t cut the National Guard.”
“I’m co-chair of the governor’s advisory council to the Pentagon and Homeland Security, and the message from all the governors of both parties is, don’t cut the National Guard,” Branstad told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday.
“We know there’s going to be reductions in the Army — there’s been a big buildup in the Army since 9-11, and now the Army is recommending major reductions in the National Guard instead of the regular Army, and we think that’s a big mistake. That’s the message that I’m going to bring to the president if I get an opportunity to ask a question.”
The governor was reacting to reports that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday will release a Pentagon budget proposal that calls for the smallest U.S. Army since 1940.
According to the New York Times, Hagel’s plan to “significantly reshape America’s land forces” also includes reductions in the National Guard, which falls under the command of state governors.
The reduction means the military will be prepared to “decisively win one conflict while holding off an adversary’s aspirations in a second until sufficient forces could be mobilized and redeployed to win there,” the Times reported.
Hagel’s budget proposal also eliminates an entire class of Air Force attack jets.
But proposed cuts to the National Guard are the most controversial element for the states.
“We want to make sure the Reserve and National Guard is protected in our country,” Conn. Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
“I’m going to have that discussion with the president tomorrow (Monday). We cannot shrink that force the way that is being proposed out of the Defense Department,” Malloy said.
In his remarks to the governors at a White House dinner on Sunday, President Obama mentioned “spending time with Governor O’Malley at the Naval Academy graduation last spring and looking out over some of our newest sailors and Marines as they join the greatest military in the world, and reminding ourselves that on national security issues, the contributions of the National Guard obviously are extraordinary and all of you work so closely with them.”