Command Sgt. Maj. Stanley W. Williams, prepares the unit colors for casing during the inactivation ceremony Thursday of 4th Attack Reconnaissance Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. (Staff Sgt. Mark Mirandas/Army)
The 4th Attack Reconnaissance Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment was inactivated Thursday, making it the first Kiowa unit to be shut down as part of the Army’s aviation restructuring initiative.
The squadron eventually will be reactivated, however, as an Apache squadron.
The squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, is part of the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade. Soldiers from the unit recently returned from a nine-month tour in South Korea, where it served as the first U.S. rotational land force in the region.
The Army’s aviation restructuring initiative calls for the Army to divest its fleet of the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter and use the AH-64 Apache to fill the Kiowa’s reconnaissance and scout role.
It would pull Apaches from the National Guard inventory to fill the gap, and the Army will in turn provide the Guard with UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
This plan, which also includes cutting three active-duty aviation brigades, has been controversial from the start, drawing criticism and opposition from lawmakers and Guard advocates reluctant to lose the Apache.
Army leaders, who have pushed for months for the initiative, said the move is necessary because of ongoing budget cuts. The initiative will save the Army about $12 billion over the next several years, beginning with $2 billion in fiscal 2015 alone, officials said.
In July, the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee approved a 2015 spending bill that lets the Guard keep the Apaches and specifically opposes the helicopter transfer, the Associated Press reported.
The bill has not been approved by the full Senate.