Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today outlined a plan for cuts to the Pentagon that would reduce the number of troops to pre-World War II levels, though he admits threats to the United States remain prevalent.

Missourinet photo, Jessica Machetta.

Missourinet photo, Jessica Machetta.

“As we end our combat mission in Afghanistan, this will be the first budget to fully reflect the transition DOD [Department of Defense] is making for after 13 years of war, the longest conflict in our nation’s history,” he said. “We are repositioning to focus on the strategic challenges and opportunities that will define our future: new technologies; new centers of power; and a world that is growing more volatile, more unpredictable, and in some instances more threatening to the United States.”

Hagel said the spending plan first made cuts to management and operating costs, and then moved on to cutting contract spending, civilian personnel, and improving the quality of financial information,”and taking other steps to become more efficient, in addition to continuing to implement the more than $200 billion in overhead cuts DOD has submitted in the last three budget proposals.”

State Treasurer Clint Zweifel, who has been working with Gov. Jay Nixon and others on looking at ways to guard Missouri’s military resources from federal budget cuts, issued the following statement in response to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s budget proposal.

“Today Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey outlined a proposed defense budget for the next fiscal year,” Zweifel said in an e-mailed statement. “We know the United States has entered into a new budgetary climate, and as such, we must make changes to our military that continue to respond to our nation’s security needs. Missouri has a long and proud history of supporting the armed forces and the men and women who serve in uniform. Our state is in a strong place to convey the strategic advantage of the military installations here in Missouri.”

U.S. Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill have sent a letter to Hagel expressing “deep concerns with the cuts.”

Blunt and McCaskill join ten other members of the Senate in urging Hagel to bring each side back to the table to find a solution that fully takes into account national security needs as well as state domestic response obligations.

“This shortsighted approach creates unnecessary risk to our national security at the expense of incredibly capable attack aviation assets in the Army National Guard,” the letter reads. “We believe the National Guard can be part of a cost effective security solution that retains affordable security for peacetime as well as the ability to respond to unforeseen, future contingencies.”

To read the entire letter, click here.

Sen. Blunt says the 35th Combat Aviation Brigade has three units located in Missouri, and under the Army’s current plan, all three units would be impacted. the impact to Missouri would include:

  • 1-135th Aviation Battalion, located at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., conducts attack, reconnaissance and security operations that compliment other maneuver forces. This unit has 24 AH-64 D Apache Longbow attack helicopters assigned to it.
  • 3-135th Theater Aviation Battalion, located in Lebanon, Mo., provides mission command, administration and logistics support.
  • 935th Aviation Support Battalion, located in Springfield and Warrensburg, Mo., provides maintenance, maneuver, signal and logistics support for the 35th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB).
  • In all, there are 402 MO Army National Guard aviation personnel assigned across the state.

Economic Impact:

  • Warrensburg Detachment: $5,277,284 economic impact; 96 assigned
  • Lebanon: $3,346,518 economic impact; 87 assigned
  • Springfield: 11,363,764 economic impact; 186 assigned
  • Total Economic Impact: $33,978,862