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Proposed Army plan would cut Florida Guard, Reserve by 10 percent

A proposed plan being put forward by Army brass would cut the Florida Army Reserve and National Guard by 10 percent.

The plan would cut the National Guard and Army Reserve force from 350,000 soldiers to 315,000, according to Lt. Col. James Evans, director of public affairs for the Florida National Guard.

The cuts would mean a reduction in force for the Florida arm of the Guard from 10,000 to 9,000 soldiers.

“You can look at what just happened in Atlanta (with the snowstorm), you need to make sure you have the resources to support homeland defense,” Evans said. “If you’re cutting a tenth of the force out in the third largest state, that’s not helping us out when we have our own natural disasters.”

Florida’s Guard is already small compared to other states.

With a force of 10,000 and a population of over 19 million, the state of Florida ranks 49th for soldier to civilian ratio.

Evans noted the plan is “pre-decisional” but said, “they’re going around making the press circuit showing this plan is how they choose to manage the shortfalls.”

The recent budget passed by congress merely staves off the effects of sequestration for two years, Evans said. In 2016, the full effect will again be felt by the nation’s military.

“Once it went into effect, there has to be a law to repeal sequestration,” Evans said. “So it’s in effect for it’s full 10 years and the two year budget authorization that was passed only lessens the effect.”

Included in the plan is also a provision that would take four Blackhawk helicopters from the Florida Guard, many of which are housed at Cecil Field.

The aviation portion of the plan would give all of the National Guard’s Apache attack helicopters to the active arm. Though Florida doesn’t have any, the plan would take some of Florida’s Blackhawks and give them to the states that lost the Apaches.

“Under the current plan, we would lose four Blackhawks at Cecil Field,” he said.

National Guard and Army Reserve units are often seen as a deal for the military. Soldiers only draw about 40 days of pay per year and don’t draw full benefits.

“An Army Reserve/National Guard soldier costs less than a third of an active component soldier to sustain,” Evans said.

clifford.davis@jacksonville.com

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