Pentagon cuts could cost Florida National Guard 1,000 troops

Major General Emmett J.Titshaw, Jr., the adjutant general of Florida at Florida National Guard training facility Camp Blanding where weekend warriors hone their skills.
Major General Emmett J.Titshaw, Jr., the adjutant general of Florida at Florida National Guard training facility Camp Blanding where weekend warriors hone their skills.

A current Pentagon plan to reduce the size of the Army would lose the Florida National Guard about 1,000 troops, or about a 10th of the force, the FNG said in a said Wednesday.

The statement noted that the so-called force-structure realignment is still under discussion, and no decision has been made. But the state drew up the projection based on a proposed across-the-board reduction in Army National Guard forces to 315,000 in coming budget years.

“For a state whose ratio of Guardsman-to-citizen is already next to last in the nation, and whose vulnerabilities far exceed those of other states, this is unacceptable,” said the statement issued by Lt. Col. James Evans, the FNG public affairs officer.

The so-called citizen soldiers are also cheaper than their full-time counterparts, the statement said, and cost “less than a third of an active component soldier to sustain.”

Evans said it was too early to know whether the force would be cut through attrition or layoffs and how soldiers would be selected. “Details of how this would be implemented are not known. So we cannot speculate on how we would have to implement,” he said, adding only the Army portion of the Florida National Guard would lose troops, not the smaller Florida Air National Guard force.

As of December 2013, the Florida National Guard had a total of 11,893 troops, mostly funded by the federal government — 10,052 in the Army component and 1,841 in the Air National Guard.

The FNG issued the statement as a Florida Guard unit heads to public affairs duty at the detention center in Guantánamo Bay.

The St. Augustine based 107th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment will be doing its second one-year tour at the prison camps in southeast Cuba, censoring visiting civilian reporters’ photographs and videos, escorting media at the Pentagon’s war court or on prison tours and publishing a weekly newsletter for the 2,000 or so staff members at the prison. The unit last served there in 2009, the year President Barack Obama ordered the prison’s closure.

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