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Deploying active units over Guard to save $93M

Mar. 26, 2013 - 06:57AM   |  
Four Indiana National Guard units will not deploy as planned this summer.
Four Indiana National Guard units will not deploy as planned this summer. ()
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Nearly 1,000 soldiers from four Army National Guard units scheduled to deploy this summer to the Horn of Africa and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula will stay home, officials announced March 20.

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Nearly 1,000 soldiers from four Army National Guard units scheduled to deploy this summer to the Horn of Africa and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula will stay home, officials announced March 20.

The Army, citing an “immediate fiscal year 2013 budget shortfall of $18 billion,” will send active-duty units instead. This will save the Army up to $93 million.

Ongoing budget cuts, sequestration and underfunding of fiscal 2013 overseas contingency operations requirements have “severely constrained the Army’s ability to perform directed missions with previously planned reserve component forces,” according to an Army statement.

The units that have been off-ramped all belong to the Indiana Guard. They are:

• 1st Battalion, 293rd Infantry Regiment, about 450 soldiers.

• 1st Squadron, 152nd Cavalry Regiment, about 300 soldiers.

• Delta 113th Forward Support Company, about 100 soldiers.

• Echo 113th Forward Support Company, about 100 soldiers.

Most of the $93 million in savings will come from soldier pay and benefits, not having to fill mission-specific equipment shortages, and canceling mobilization and unit-level collective training, Army spokesman Wayne Hall said.

“The Army’s always looking at ways to more effectively manage its resources, and when feasible, deploying active-component units avoids the costs associated with mobilizing reserve-component personnel,” he said.

The Army also is able to fill these deployment requirements because the overall demand for troops around the world has decreased, meaning more active-duty units are available for duty, Hall said.

The Army has not named which active-duty units will deploy in place of these Guard units.

At this point, there are no plans to replace any other deploying reserve-component units with active-duty units, Hall said.

The Army is committed to its total force policy, the Army statement said.

“The Army implemented these changes to achieve immediate cost savings based on current budget considerations,” according to the statement. “This decision does not represent a shift in policy with regard to the deployment and utilization of reserve-component units in the future.”

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 293rd Infantry Regiment, and soldiers from their forward support company, Echo Company, were supposed to deploy in June to Djibouti, said Capt. Kathryn Elkins, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Guard.

Soldiers from 1st Squadron, 152nd Cavalry Regiment, and soldiers from its forward support company, Delta Company, were supposed to go to the Sinai in August, she said.

The units were supposed to do nine-month tours, Elkins said.

Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, adjutant general of the Indiana Guard, said in a statement that he was concerned about the late timing of the Army’s announcement and the impact it will have on his soldiers.

“Our citizen soldiers, families and employers deserve more predictability,” he said.

All affected soldiers have been notified, and leaders from the Indiana Guard are working with soldiers and families who might face hardships from this change in plans, Elkins said.

“There’s quite a few of their soldiers who do not have jobs to go back to, and quite a few whose employers had already hired temporary guys to fill their positions while they were gone,” Elkins said about soldiers from 1st Battalion, 293rd Infantry, who were slated to leave sooner. “That alone is extremely stressful for families.”

The soldiers had been training for almost two years for their respective missions, Elkins said.

“Everybody’s been in that mindset the last two years, and to be yanked off at the last minute, it’s difficult,” she said.

And while soldiers are grateful for the time they’ll have with their families, the change in plans is bittersweet, Elkins said.

“A lot of people were pumped up, ready to go,” she said. “A lot of people look forward to deployment. This is what they signed up for. They want to serve their country. It’s a disappointment, but we understand, and we’re here to support in whatever capacity we need to.”

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