The National Guard of the United States are state militias — part of the reserve components of the U.S. Armed Forces. It is a reserve military force, composed of National Guard military members or units of each state and territory. All members of the National Guard of the United States are also members of the militia of the United States as defined by 10 U.S.C. § 31:
(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are—
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.
Being part of America’s “reserved military force” means that the National Guard must have combat capabilities.
But the Obama administration is stripping the National Guards of their combat capabilities by removing their Apache attack helicopters (and OH-58 Kiowa Warrior scout helicopters) and replacing them with UH-60 Blackhawk transport helicopters.
The Apaches will be given to the active duty Army, while the entire fleet of Kiowas, in use for nearly 50 years, will be phased out.
At the same time, three of 13 combat aviation brigades will be eliminated from the Army.
Ben Watson reports for Defense One that this is part of a broader restructuring of Army air assets after more than a decade of combat and steep budget cuts. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee at a hearing on April, 8, 2014 will save some $12 billion through fiscal year 2017.
The replacement of the National Guard’s attack Apaches with transport helicopters is presented as part of a broader question about what the Defense Department sees as the long-term role of the National Guard, after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
National Guard Chief Gen. Frank Grass, who also testified at the hearing, isn’t happy with the plan.
He said: “None of us like what we’re having to do. My big concern right now is figuring out how I’m going to move, and how many states I’m going to have an impact on, and what’s the cost of facilities and to retrain pilots. I’ve got to tackle that because the decision’s been made. This is much larger than the Apache discussion. Especially as we look down the road. It’s brigades. It will affect just about every jurisdiction in the United States when we look at this to get down to the 315,000 number someday that we face.”
The “someday number” of 315,000 refers to cuts in National Guard personnel, should sequestration continue into FY2016.
Some argue the helicopter swap is needed because the Blackhawk transport helicopters are better suited for natural disaster recovery operations, which Guard units are tasked to do. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Co) said the Blackhawks were instrumental during recent flooding in his state. “In Colorado, we benefited greatly from having National Guard Blackhawks available to perform search and rescue missions, evacuate flood victims, drop water on wildfires, even deliver hay to cattle stranded by blizzards. Have Apaches ever been used for those purposes, and wouldn’t it make sense to have those utility aircraft available to governors for in-state missions?”
But Gen. Grass points out that “The main mission of those Apaches is to be the combat reserve of the Army.”
There are currently nine states where the National Guard flies Apaches.
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has introduced a bill to block the Apache transfer. The bill is provisionally title “National Commission on the Structure of the Army Act of 2014” but does not yet have a number.
In a statement on his website, Congressman Wilson reminds Americans that our National Guards are not just for disaster relief; they also serve an important combat role: “There were times during Operation Iraqi Freedom when the Army National Guard represented 50 percent of the Army’s combat power.” Both Guard and Reserve troops have accounted for nearly a third of the nation’s more than 2.5 million service members who have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. Nearly 10,000 Guard or Reserve members have deployed more than five times, according to Defense Department data.
Wilson’s bill, which currently has the support of 41 Democrats and 111 Republicans, also calls for a commission to study the proposed changes—a measure Odierno says he sees no need for.
But there are those who see a more sinister purpose for stripping the National Guards of their Apache attack helicopters.
David Gibson of the economic and market trends site Wealthy Debates points out that the Apache, which began service in 1986, is armed with a 30 mm M230E1 Chain Gun (with 1,200 rounds), Hellfire anti-tank missiles, and 70 general-purpose 70 mm rockets. In short, it is capable of fending-off any enemy, foreign or domestic.
Obviously, these helicopters could pose a substantial obstacle to say, a tyrant drunk on his own power, with an army at his disposal.
With the recent, attempted seizure of the Bundy family ranch in Nevada by more than 200 armed federal officers, including many snipers, we know that the Obama administration is not afraid to use force against the American people.
Furthermore, considering the unprovoked attacks and murders of U.S. citizens on their own property by federal agents, such as the Ruby Ridge and Waco massacres, we also know that the federal government has no problem suspending due process and using lethal force on its own citizens. Couple that with the as yet, unexplained, massive arms buildup by the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Defense Authorization Act which allows the feds to arrest and detain any U.S. citizen indefinitely without charges, and even the most establishment-minded American should be able to see what is coming.
There are a few governors around the country who would not stand for martial-law being arbitrarily declared by this or any president, but without any teeth (i.e. Apache attack helicopters) what could they use to stop Obama’s tyranny?