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Chief's Guard comments called 'irresponsible'

Jan. 17, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Odierno interview MWM 20131219
Two lawmakers have called recent remarks by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno 'irresponsible.' (Mike Morones/Staff)
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Two lawmakers have joined the ongoing debate about the role and future size of the Army National Guard, calling recent remarks by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno “irresponsible.”

In a letter to Odierno and Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau, Reps. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Tim Walz, D-Minn., wrote: “This is not to advocate one component over the other, but it is important for the services and the Congress to have an open and honest dialogue on the force structure of the Armed Forces. It is irresponsible to suggest that the Army National Guard and Reserve forces are not interchangeable and less capable to accomplish our national security objectives abroad.”

On Jan. 7, during a news briefing at the National Press Club, Odierno said the Guard would not be capable of taking on more of the active-duty force’s responsibilities if the active Army force structure falls much below the 490,000 floor that the chief set for 2015.

“The capabilities are not interchangeable,” Odierno said. “There’s a reason why the active component is more expensive. It brings you a higher level of readiness, because they’re full time.”

Those remarks come as the active Army cuts the force by 80,000, and deeper cuts seem likely.

Days after Odierno’s briefing, retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett, president of the National Guard Association of the United States, called the general’s remarks “disrespectful and simply not true.”

NGAUS, which posted the letter by Hunter and Walz on its website, also said Odierno “disparaged the Army National Guard.”

Hunter, a former active-duty Marine who still serves in the Marine Reserve, and Walz, who retired as command sergeant major from the Army Guard, are co-chairmen of the House National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus.

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