The head of the Pennsylvania National Guard is fighting to preserve his force amidst a proposal by the Department of Defense to drastically cut the U.S. military force to a pre-World War II size.
Major General Wesley Craig recently returned from a meeting with top National Guard officials in Washington, who say it's the active component of the military —- not the Guard —- that needs to shrink.
Under the current proposed cuts by the Chief of the Army, Pennsylvania's National Guard would be slashed by 10 percent — approximately 1,500 soldiers.
Tuesday, Governor Tom Corbett sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urging him to take another look at preserving the National Guard, which has a dual role in assisting in domestic emergencies, like floods and hurricanes, and deploying overseas.
“If you're involved in a shooting war, you need as many active component soldiers as you can. You get them by recruiting them or mobilizing the Guard reserve,” Craig said. “If you're not, it makes sense to maintain a large size force in the Guard because we only cost pennies on the dollar.”
Craig said the National Guard operates at about 30 percent of the cost of the active component, which translates to a $15 billion budget each year (National Guard), versus a $150 billion budget (active component).
He estimates for every 10,000 active soldiers who would transfer over to the National Guard, $1.7 billion would be saved in federal taxpayer dollars.