Postpone Cutbacks To National Guard

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and a bipartisan group of other lawmakers are right in urging that the Army go slow in a drastic change planned for the National Guard.

Manchin and 18 other senators have introduced a a bill to create an independent panel to study the Army’s proposal. The legislation is titled the National Commission on the Future of the Army Act.

It was prompted by a Defense Department proposal to reduce the size of the National Guard by 10 percent, and to eliminate some equipment, including Apache helicopters, now used by the Guard. If approved, the bill would postpone cuts in personnel and equipment for the Guard.

Obviously, active-duty generals told to trim spending will find it attractive to cut first at the National Guard and Army Reserve.

But these “citizen-soldiers” are invaluable in many ways. Defense experts say the U.S. Guard and Reserve are by far the most capable military reserves of any country in the world.

And, as experience in Iraq and Afghanistan has shown, the nation sometimes needs men and women ready to serve at a moment’s notice.

Both the Senate and House of Representatives should approve the bill. President Barack Obama should sign it into law. Making major cuts to the National Guard could come back to haunt Americans in the future, when a truly ready reserve is needed to deal with a domestic emergency or overseas crisis.