Hagel's military cuts would impact Maine National Guard
AUGUSTA (WGME) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has a plan to make the US military the smallest its been since before World War II.
Some applaud the plan as a way to save a lot of money, but leaders in Maines National Guard are worried about what this will mean for troops and readiness.
Colonel Jack Mosher says the Defense Secretary is not only slashing active duty troops, but also taking aim at the National Guard.
It would reduce our 2,000 force structure in Maine by about 100 soldiers, Col. Mosher explained.
Secretary Hagel's plan cuts military forces from 520,000 to about 440,000.
Col. Mosher says that also means slashing 25,000 National Guard troops, which translates to about one hundred soldiers out of a job here in Maine.
The smaller we get, the more demand is placed on our soldiers, and the ability to respond to contingencies is going to be reduced, Col. Mosher said.
Hagel's plan is expected to include cuts in military benefits like higher medical deductibles, reductions in tax-free housing allowances, and limits on pay raises.
Many of those benefits are limited to active duty soldiers, but National Guard has active duty soldiers that serve here, Col. Mosher said.
Hagel's plan would save billions of dollars, which he's under pressure from Congress to do.
But Col. Mosher believes the government can save more money by relying on a larger reserve force.
You have a two-thirds cost savings in National Guard soldiers versus active component at about 80 percent the capability, he said.
Col. Mosher says the National Guard troops here in Maine are among the finest in the nation.
Theyre indecipherable from active duty forces, he said.
And even if Hagel's plan goes through, Col. Mosher says theres no doubt, his soldiers will still get the job done.
We will continue to provide a ready force for the citizens and the Governor, regardless of force cuts, he said.
The proposal also calls for reduction in certain navy ships.
A naval spokeswoman tells CBS13 News there would not be any impact on work at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Maine Senator Angus King, a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, is also weighing in.
In a statement to CBS13 News Wednesday, King says he's still waiting for more details about the plan and the possible impact on Maine, but says he will keep the Maine National Guard at the forefront of his mind.
The plan goes to lawmakers next month.