A National Guard AH-64 Apache lands on a Navy ship -- a rare skill in the Army. But the Pentagon's budget plans would move all Guard Apaches to active-duty units.

An AH-64 Apache from the South Carolina National Guard lands on a Navy ship — a rare skill in the Army. But the Pentagon’s current budget plans would transfer all Guard Apaches to regular active-duty units.

WASHINGTON: National Guard attack helicopter units just can’t be as battle-ready as full-time regular Army ones, Deputy Secretary of Defense Christine Fox has been telling the Hill. That’s why the Guard should give all its AH-64 Apache gunships to the active-duty force to replace older aircraft lost to budget cuts.

“Combat elements must be in the AC [active component],” says one of Fox’s briefing slides, which were obtained by Breaking Defense and incensed one Guard commander we showed them to.

What proof does the Office of Secretary of Defense offer? Fox’s briefing slides say the Guard’s Apache units took longer to train for deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq than its transport helicopters – which is the only kind of chopper that the Army’s plan would leave in the Guard. Then, once the Guard Apaches did deploy, they overwhelmingly took on less tactically complex “security” missions like convoy escort, while active-duty gunships did more than 90 percent of the most demanding jobs, supporting first the initial invasions and then counterinsurgency operations.

Army National Guard Apaches Etc Briefing

We’ve heard the Army make similar arguments before about Guard ground forces, most prominently when Maj. Gen. John Rossi told me Guard brigade combat teams mostly took on lower-complexity missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. But this is the first time I’ve seen such a case against Guard aviation, the most bitterly controversial issue in the Army’s plan to cope with the budget cuts known as sequestration. Perhaps most striking, this is the first time I’ve seen an argument against Guard readiness made by a senior official from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, let alone by the No. 2 in the entire Defense Department.

The Guard advocates and officers I talked to are, unsurprisingly, upset. “DoD – probably with a lot of help from the Army – is trying to ‘Rossi’ the Apache units,” said John Goheen, top spokesman for the powerful National Guard Association of the US (NGAUS), when I showed him the slides. “It surprises me that the Army has the audacity to clear some of this stuff…. This is classic cherry-picked data.”

“It’s laughable to us, laughable,” said the commander of one Guard Apache battalion, Lt. Col. James Fidler of the South Carolina Army National Guard. When his unit deployed to Iraq in 2004-2005 for 14 months, “we were doing the same exact mission sets as our active-duty counterparts,” Fidler told me. “Our helicopters were coming back every day with bullet holes in them.”

“About four doors down from me is my senior instructor pilot: He got a Purple Heart” after a bullet penetrated his Apache’s armored canopy, Fidler went on. The pilot went back to the US, healed, and returned to Iraq into time to get his gunship badly shot up again. “Trying to take these airframes and dishonor the service and capabilities of these guys is incredibly disingenuous.”

One of Lt. Col. Fidler's Apaches on the tilting deck of a Navy ship.

One of Lt. Col. Fidler’s Apaches on the tilting deck of a Navy ship.

South Carolina Apaches In Iraq & At Sea

The South Carolina battalion didn’t deploy again until 2011, when the US was withdrawing from a much less violent Iraq. This time its mission was “security”: providing air cover to bases, convoys, and units headed to Kuwait. “[But] we don’t choose the time and place where we serve,” said Fidler. In fact, after the battalion’s 14-month deployment early in the war, Defense Secretary Robert Gates had restricted how often Guard and Reserve troops could deploy to keep them from burning out or losing their civilian jobs.

The Guard doesn’t get to say how long it needs to train up, either: That’s determined by the Army, and Guard officers from multiple types of units were telling me years ago that much of that training was redundant. “120 days….that was absolutely ridiculous,” Fidler said.

“We flew less at the mobilization site than we fly at home station [in South Carolina],” Fidler went on. “I’m an Apache pilot and they wanted me to go to nutrition classes, cultural classes. They wanted me to know how to search vehicles.” It also didn’t help that the Guard had older A-model Apaches that the Army deemed inadequate for Iraq, so they had to retrain on the newer AH-64D. (Now the Army is upgrading the force to the AH-6E “Guardian” model).

Once they finally got to Iraq, Fidler said, his unit ended up being the only Apache battalion in the whole country for roughly the last month of the withdrawal operation, he said, escorting the commanding general out on very last day. Then they took on a new mission: guarding the Gulf against Iran.

That required landing on Navy ships and taking off again, Fidler said, skills that the Apache community had stopped practicing during the post-9/11 years. His pilots were the first in years to be “deck-landing qualified,” he said, and even today they’re the only unit that trains other Army Apache crews, active duty and Guard, to operate from ships. In the last 12 months, the South Carolinians have even conducted two live-fire exercises with US aircraft carriers.

Most Apache units, both active-duty and Guard, have spent the last decade operating in two-gunship teams like this one, not the larger formations required for conventional wars.

Most Apache units, both active-duty and Guard, have spent the last decade operating in two-gunship teams like this one — not the larger formations required for conventional wars.

Collective Training & Budget Cuts

It’s not the skill level of individual Guard Apache crewmembers that the regular Army is worried about, however. It’s not even their ability to operate in well-coordinated two-gunship teams. As with Guard ground combat brigades, the issue is “collective training”: having the time to train large units – say, an eight-Apache company or a 24-Apache battalion – to operate together in support of ground forces doing complex combat missions like counterinsurgency or mechanized maneuver.  And since working side-by-side with drones (aka “manned-unmanned teaming”) is central to the Army’s concept for future Apache operations, the training required is just going to get even more complex.

“Units requiring high degree of collective training should reside generally reside in AC [active component],” says one of Fox’s slides. “Apaches fall into this category.”

“AC Apache units train about 200 days/year,” Fox’s briefing goes on. (Roughly half of that is “collective” training, half individual, an Army official told me). “[Guard] Apache units train 39 days plus extra training days to maintain individual flight proficiency.” (Emphasis mine).

That “extra” time sure adds up, though: “Our pilots train well over a hundred days a year,” Fidler told me. Other Guard helicopter units that I’ve heard about are similar.

But, as the Army says, that’s just to keep up individual skills. Surely the active-duty units get more collective training time in flying lots of aircraft at once?

Not so, said Fidler. “You have active-duty guys acting like they’re doing a lot of company and battalion-level missions, [but] they’ve been doing the same damn thing we’ve been doing for the last 10-11 years,” he told me: flying missions in two-gunship teams, because that’s what the scattered, small-unit combats of guerrilla warfare required.

Only now is anyone in the Apache community, Guard or regular, refocusing on larger-scale maneuvers. At a December 2012 conference at Fort Rucker, Alabama, the Army’s center for helicopter training and doctrine, Fiddler said, “one of the key topics of emphasis was that few of our Apache soldiers – very few – knew what it meant to go to the field, and few knew what it meant to fly in company and battalion formations. We have been used to FOBs [forward operating bases] and teams of two.”

Every Apache unit” is in this predicament, Fidler emphasized. It’s not the Guard’s issue: It’s the regular Army’s as well.

The question is how to fix this Army-wide problem with limited funds. Guard units are less expensive to keep up in peacetime than their active-duty equivalents, although Guard Apache battalions are less of a bargain because gunships are expensive to operate and require a lot of full-time maintenance personnel. But can Guard units find the time to keep up with the high-tech, tactically complex training the Army considers necessary for future missions? Even if they can, can a cash-strapped Army afford to let them keep their Apaches? Then again, if the Guard Apaches move to the active force, can the Army afford to lose the Guard’s experienced pilots? “Our unit alone has 100,000 hours of Apache experience,” Fidler told me.

Pentagon leadership says transferring the Apaches is the keystone of a general overhaul of Army aviation, the only way to fit the force in tighter budgets while retaining the most modern and effective aircraft. That’s the case the department is now trying to make to Capitol Hill. We’ll have to watch this year’s legislative battles to see if they succeed.


  • Gary Church

    Attack helicopters were born in Key West, Florida, where it was decided the army would not have close air support fixed wing aircraft. Attack helicopters have no business on a battlefield unless their adversaries are illiterate tribesmen or insurgents that have been denied any air defense by an invisible army of spooks.

    The issue is not about the guard having attack helicopters, it is about the attack helicopter concept itself. They are a huge waste of resources and should just be phased out.

    • Horn

      If the enemy you are fighting doesn’t have any air defenses, then the cheapest form of CAS is either an attack helicopter or a turboprop fighter aircraft (which we still don’t have). A reduction may be needed, but not a phase out. If anything the military needs to look at the AAS and LAAR programs, again.

    • tw

      let me guess….
      stop buying silly things like attack helicopters and use the money to buy more submarines, the only reasonable battlefield weapon. the same goes for tanks, rifles, and helmets.

      • Gary Church

        Have never seen a submarine on a battlefield. Let me guess…..you don’t think attack helicopters are silly. I do.

    • Apache Pilot

      Attack helicopters should be phased out?!? Really? Have you seen “Lone Survivor”? Do you know what YouTube is? Look up how effective attack helicopters are. Just google AH-64 engagements. You’ll find more of those than any other aircraft in existence. Try it.

      The apache isn’t just an anti-enemy platform it’s also a deterrent. Convoys get hit less. Aircraft get hit less. Soldiers die less when the Apache is flying over head.

      • Gary Church

        get rid of em. Fly something that can do other things.

    • chernenko

      At Al Nasiriyah Cobras provided nice Close Air support. These were well armed irregulars with armor, not Toyota’s with a 12.7mm.

      • Gary Church

        Obviously not that well armed or they would have been shot down. Helicopters are ridiculously easy targets even for a 12.7mm on a Toyota.

        • Jeffrey Buss

          Spoken like a true buffoon Gary. Your total lack of relevant experience on this issue is quite apparent. The only thing that galls me more than your logic is the fact that I’ve allowed myself to get sucked into arguing against your ignorance on the subject.

          • Gary Church

            I am not being allowed to reply. You win.

        • Chernenko

          They killed quite a few marines and army personnel. They had T-54s, Milan’s and assorted small arms. These weren’t afghani nerf herders with Mosin Nagants they melted under the Cobras.

          • Gary Church

            If they killed quite a few of us then I guess the Cobras did not provide very good support then. They “melted” because it was time to go. Just because some attack helicopters show up and fire their weapons does not justify the billions spent on them that could be spent on blackhawks that you can also hang guns and rockets on if you can get away with it. Could three blackhawks given better support for the price of one Apache? Could a fighter plane have just dropped bombs?

          • Gary Church

            Attack helicopters are not necessary. “Nice to have” is no excuse for the real helicopters that could be had instead.

          • Gary Church

            That Blackhawk carries the same number of missiles as an Apache. And it can also carry a pair of mini-guns firing out the side windows. Or you can strip them all off in a couple hours and fly it as a transport. Attack helicopter pilots can argue all day about the better capability, armor, maneuverability, whatever, but the fact is they will not be going anywhere these gunships cannot go. The attack helicopter was originally a smaller target using the same components as a Huey. It morphed into an anti-armor platform and then into the present “convoy escort” or whatever mission they want to claim they are indispensable for. It is another product being hyped by a clique that wants to keep their toys at the expense of the rest of the force. I have no respect for people playing such games. They can scold me and call me an ignorant buffoon all day long but it wont change the truth.

    • Jeffrey Buss

      Attack helicopters like just about every other invention, were born out of need. The surface to air threat for them is the same one that tactical fixed wing deals with. They have speed as ONE of their counter-measures, helicopters can use terrain masking. Gary Church, what did you experience in your life that has made you so adamant that attack helicopters are a waste?

      • Gary Church

        This is one of those comments strings where the guy boasting creds is allowed to bash they guy with an opinion who is then not allowed to bash back. So smile away behind those sunglasses…… I am not being allowed to reply.

  • PolicyWonk

    National Guard attack helicopter units just can’t be as battle-ready as full-time regular Army ones, Deputy Secretary of Defense Christine Fox has been telling the Hill. That’s why the Guard should give all its AH-64 Apache gunships to the active-duty force to replace older aircraft lost to budget cuts.


    The USA spends, even with sequestration, an order of magnitude more than the next 10 top nations military expenditures combined. The US taxpayers gets the lousiest deal for defense dollar spent in the western world, yet no one is looking to address acquisition reform.

    The current system is rife with redundancies, inefficiency, corporate welfare programs, gold-plated weapons, fraud, and lacks any coherent strategy across service branches regarding acquisition or force structure.

    Congress could go a long way to fixing the problems by agreeing to fund the DoD, but only if the DoD (all service branches) agree to put the entire acquisition system under receivership. The Congress, however, would also have to agree to live up to the receivers reorganization, and cease the meddling in the military’s affairs that has become a tradition – by putting the taxpayers interests and national security at a higher priority than their own careers or personal gains.

    • Gary Church

      There is a little more to it than that Wonk. After Vietnam the army organization was changed by General Abrams and the reserves were made part of the divisions that were to be deployed in the event of a major conflict. The intention was to keep the army from being involved in another Vietnam because calling up these reserves would make it much more difficult to commit forces to backwater political footballs. These reorganizations to reverse that are being made in the name of sequestration. About the best mission for attack helicopters is keeping an occupied population terrorized by motoring around overhead 24/7 threatening them with missile assassination and auto-cannon massacre. On a battlefield against opponents with air defenses the money is far better spent on transport helicopters.

  • Gary Church

    National Guard can operate a brand new air refueled Chinook for twice as many hours as an Apache. Carry a full platoon, or sling load 21,000 pounds of food, ammo, artillery, emergency supplies, whatever is needed while the Apache sits on the ramp looking deadly.

    • Horn

      Let’s compare an attack helicopter to a transport/cargo helicopter. That makes sense.

      • Glenn

        It does make sense when you’re talking about the Guard’s primary mission.

        • Horn

          The way he worded it doesn’t. The ANG Apaches have been used in combat. He makes it sound like they aren’t used at all. I do believe that the ANG Apaches should become AC with the Army to save money.

          • Jeffrey Buss

            Gary will argue that utility/transport helicopters will do any mission better. He is so blind on this issue no amount of reason will change his opinion.

          • Gary Church

            Not blind, unbiased. It costs too much money to fly these wannabe fighter planes around at a hundred miles an hour. They are bullet magnets and cannot survive on a battlefield against people shooting back. I would say you are the one short on reasoning power. They have been around far too long already; their time has come and gone. Time to move on.

  • CharleyA

    Curious that Army NG pilots are considered less ready (competent?) than their active duty counterparts. In the AirNG, it is often the case that ANG pilots are better prepared than their active duty counterparts. It might be that the ANG pilots are probably commercial pilots in the civilian world, which may not be the case for the Army NG pilots…

  • The Answe

    Drawdowns suck no matter what…happens after every war. Someone has to take the hit, stop making it a guard versus active duty thing. Media has an agenda that everyone is playing into. Times are changing and not everyone is going to be happy.

  • Level Headed

    I think what most people are missing is the fact that the Guard’s main argument is an emotional one. Listen to all these arguments: “well, WE took bullets too,” “we fly lots of hours too,” “I am just as good as an active duty guy,” blah blah blah. I get it… it sucks… but the cuts have to happen somewhere and this is an appropriate place. The states do not NEED the 64, and the Army does. Simple as that. Nobody is disarming the states (uh, hello, they still operate fighter jets), and nobody is saying that Guard pilots are automatically shitty because they are Guard pilots. I do believe that active duty guys and gals are better prepared for future deployments than Guard units for a lot of reasons that I don’t need to get into here. I think the Guard needs to dry its tears and focus on the awesome prospect of gaining aircraft that will serve their community better. The Guard is for the state… I think they have forgotten this! There is no more demand for two wars, so it is time to fall into their actual role again.

    • apparently less level headed

      Over looking the fact that, regardless of our “actual” role, we will still get called up for federal missions in years to come.

    • Tex

      The active force is cooking the books again. Comparing the missions they give AH-64D active units to Ah-64A guard units. No emotions just do an actual comparison of bang for the buck. We can’t afford to keep all these attack bastions on active duty, while the force starts flying combat mission simulator minimums.

    • http://batman-news.com Goose10001

      Well, while your argument is all well and fine for a peacetime Guard, the National Guard of the United States has not been a “peacetime Guard” in a very long time now and will not be for many years to come. It has been proven in study after REPEATED study that big boy Army cannot maintain its readiness state or rotational ability in and and out of theater without the National Guard. So why don’t we stow the “dry the tears” remarks for some other time. Big boy Army can’t play in the game like they want to without the National Guard. History is repeating itself here and a lot of people, apparently you being one of them, are forgetting what happened around the time the U.S. declared we had won the Cold War. Within months we began to RIF, completely strip down naked our forces to barely nothing. We mothballed our tanks. We sent hundreds of our jets to the boneyards in Arizona. What is happening now? Remember, they did the same thing to the Guard back then. Stripped them down to their underwear and had people like you saying “its no big thing. Dry your tears.” Then a few years down the road when we pee’d on someone’s Wheaties and Big boy Army realized they needed the National Guard, oh boy, Rumsfeld had to go begging to Congress asking for some money. So go ahead and while I agree with you the National Guard is supposed to be ready for its STATE mission, its supposed to be ready for its FEDERAL mission as well.

    • ScipioX

      Actually, his argument is not fine because he fundamentally misunderstands the role of the National Guard going back to the Army reorganization at the beginning of the 20th Century. The National Guard trains almost 100% of the time for its federal mission because it is the combat reserve of the U.S. Army and Air Forces. The Guard is not “for the state”–it is for both the state and federal missions. In an ideal world, our active component combat forces would be as large as possible for any mission that could be imagined. Since this is the real world, however, the political will and financial resources do not exist to support the active component combat tooth that we might need if various global contingencies erupt. The Army does not even have the strategic transport to take all the brigade combat teams it wants to retain overseas before the Guard brigades become available after mobilization and post-mobilization deployment training. That’s why the regular Army leadership is lying massively about Guard readiness and capabilities: because the only way to justify the retention of expensive active component elements that you can’t take anywhere before the Guard follow-on units are ready is to say that the Guard can’t do the job. The Guard arguments are based on reason–the regular Army arguments are based on the bigotry, parochialism, and strategic bankruptcy of the dinosauers at the top.

  • Curtis Conway

    This story is contrived as well. The Active Duty forces just want to pull more power back into the control with the drawdown. Guard and Reserve do fine, and you get more bang for your buck. If you want to maintain larger forces they MUST be Guard and Reserve. Active Duty cost too much. I bet the combat performance does not draw one to this conclusion! A detailed analysis of maintenance vs. availability numbers is what is required here, but anything delivered by the DoD would be suspect. With the example this administration is leading with the desired conclusion precedes the collection of facts.

  • Dukes

    “Can the Army afford to lose the Guard’s experienced pilots?”

    No, so it’s a good thing that this isn’t happening. The majority of these crews will move on to fly new air frames (like the Blackhawk), building on their years of experience. Down the road, since EVERY pilot will be trained on the LUH (Little Ugly Helicopter), the Guard will have to pay next-to-nothing to get their pilots trained on this new platform.
    Switching iron and taking that experience with you is part of life. Most pilots and wrench-turners end their careers on a different platform than they started on.

  • Dukes

    You missed the key points from the briefing:

    “Deploying National Guard units fill out end strength by cross leveling personnel from other states – usually by calling for volunteers.”

    Ask Lt Col Fidler how many of his crews came from other states (my guess is more than a handful). And while that’s a great way to make-up his unit’s shortfalls, it deprived readiness from other states. The National Guard has long-played the shell game with BCTs and other types of units.

    “Limited training opportunities with both ground units and other aviation battalions.”

    The fact that Guard aviation units are often by their lonesome isn’t a small matter. There’s a lot of training gained when your infantry, armor, lift, and attack platforms are all co-located.

    “Apaches don’t have a state mission – Blackhawks do.”

    It’s as simple as that. Why the Guard is fighting this is beyond me.

    • Gary Church

      I am all about keeping these people ready for action; I am just not a big believer in the attack helicopter concept. Transport helicopters on the other hand are indispensable. You can always hang guns and missiles on them. Considering how much less money the Blackhawk burns per hour the Guard can fly more and it seems to me even add some pilot billets. Or maybe they don’t want that? Who knows what kind of games are being played behind closed doors concerning this. I think the Guard and reserves should be expanded as the active component draws down- not both drawn down. That does not sound right.

    • Chernenko

      When Gates was the SecDef he mandated all Guard and Reserve Units deploy as whole units, not augmentation.

    • Tex

      The Army runs the guard training programs. Having them do all the standard grunt training and political correctness training is bullshit. The tougher missions Iraq were assigned to the AH-64D. Compare apples to apples. Look at ACTIVE AH-64A units versus Guard AH-64A units and you will not see much difference. Except, over the long haul the guard is much cheaper and has a higher flying hour average.

      • Dukes

        Most of the b.s. “political correctness training” is mandated by Congress, not the Army. A better use of all your time lobbying legislators would be to repeal these requirements.

        As fas as the “standard grunt training,” many attack and scout crews have rode off the battlefield strapped to an Apache wing stub. What would happen if these guys weren’t trained to E&E or operate their carbine? You’d probably be complaining that “the Army didn’t provide the training.”

        This conspiracy theory that the Army slow-rolled the Guard’s deployments is absurd. Everyone was hurting for forces by 2006…the Army made the right decision to make sure you were trained so you could go back to your wife and kids.

        This isn’t a flying club and you’re not entitled to your war adventure. Stop saying you’re good and prove it by doing the simple things right.

    • Soandso

      “Why the Guard is fighting this is beyond me.”

      Dick size. Guardsmen want to be “killers” too. They’re afraid that trading Apaches for Blackhawks will sink them even further into an HADR abyss.

      • Gary Church

        The way to test that would be to see if they could strip all the weapon systems and armor off of them and put a cargo hook on them. Listen to them wail and gnash their teeth. Probably could not take enough weight out of them to make them decent sling loaders though without major modifications.

    • Basic Knowledge

      Tanks, Artillary, Air Defense and Special Ops don’t have state missions, do they? What about Air National Guard F-16s, A-10s, or KC-135 Air Refueling Tankers, do they have state missions? NO, of course they don’t, the National Guard does not exist to provide equipment and troops for the state, that is their secondary mission. The only reason the Guard exists and is equiped is to provide ready assets to the Active Component, just like the Army and Air Force Reserves.

  • ted

    The national guard is just as ready for combat as the regular army. And has all ways been. And the Apache chopper is a needed aircraft for what its designed for. Attack.
    Policy Wonk you don’t know what your talking about. I say build more and supply the regular Army with them.

    • Gary Church

      At around 50 million each I say stop building them completely and buy two Chinooks or three Blackhawks instead. Do you even realize how much money it costs per hour to fly an Apache around? If your adversary has MANPADS they are useless while transport helicopters are indispensable.

      • David Bill

        So what exactly do you think a MANPAD is going to do to a transport helicopter? Particularly one trying to fly without a gunship to suppress the enemy.

        • Gary Church

          So what do you think transport helicopters are used for? Not flying in range of MANPADS where they can shot down. Suppress the enemy? How do you suppress dozens of different weapons firing at you from separate locations? You don’t; you run away (or “terrain mask” as they call it). Our attack helicopters are great at auto-cannon massacres and engaging people who can’t shoot back but that is not what they will face next time around.

  • Tex

    The dumbest thing in the whole study was “saving’ money by using Apaches as Aeroscouts.. Lie Lie Lie. Buy real a real reconnaissance helicopter.

    • Gary Church

      What happened to that RAH-66 Comanche? 6.9 billion. That would be one thousand million being a billion. Someone should have went to prison for that heist.

  • teerobsixnine@gmail.com

    I was on Active duty from Aug 1994-Nov 2000 as an Apache Mechanic, I loved working on the bird but hated the days spent in the field and PCS-ing. I joined the Fl Guard 3 mos after I got out, 2yrs later, I was blessed w/a Tech job in the 111 in Jacksonville, Fl. I learned more in 2 yrs working in the tech program than the 6yrs I spent on Active duty. I came in and did Helicopter maintenance for 6-7 hrs 5 days a week, not including the drill days, I was not interupted w/Motor Stables, CQ Duty, Barracks and or Post Clean or anything else that stopped me from turning wrenches. I was deployed as a Guardsman to Khandahar, Afghanistan w/1/211 Avn out of Utah Apr 2004-Apr 2005, we replaced the Guard unit out of NC and were replaced by an active duty slice I think they were from Bragg and we were better than the Active duty that we replaced us. We also, as guardsman won an Aviation of the year award for how well we performed. So for someone to say that the guard units are not mechanically “up to the task” is not an accurate statement by any means.

  • Sam Silverton

    A strong militia has always been the foundation of our Nation’s freedom. Protect the Guard: Protect the Nation. Learn more @ http://www.SavetheGuard.weebly.com and sign our petitions to halt the ARI!

  • Army Aviator

    I think the point has still been missed. The National Guard makes up 65% of the Reserve Component. The Army Reserve is the other 35% The Reserve Component makes up 51% of the Army’s combat power. The RC exists because we cannot afford a full time Army the size that we need. The RC isn’t supposed to be able to respond as quickly as the AC, but is more capable than some units in the Army. It all depends on where we choose to place emphasis (ie resources, money). Readiness levels vary greatly across the NG, Army Reserves and the Army, based on anticipated needs and managed levels of resources. This is the concept the Army has used for itself and its RC for the past 30+ years!

    Any comparison of “readiness rates” is apples to grenades. The AC and RC are trained and at the “readiness level” that the Army dictates, the current model is called Army Forces Generation or ARFORGEN. This is a rotating model that allows each unit a rest period, a reconstitution period, a train-up period, followed by the “ready period”. Money and resources available to the unit are increased during each phase. This model has saved the Army billions, by sharing equipment, reducing standards in early phases and provided predicability that all soldiers need, RC and AC.

    So, why do we have apaches in the RC? Why do we have tanks, artillary and Bradleys in the RC? By the Army’s own arguement, we shouldn’t.

    But for some reason, post WWII, congress and DOD decided that the RC should be a pool of equipped and trained soldiers that the AC could depend upon in the time of need. Whether we agree politically or not, the Army has been 100% dependent on the Reserve Component for the last 11 years.
    The RC exists in almost every military in the world. It is the safest, most logical, most cost effective military organization on the planet. It has actual practical application and serves as stategic deterent. What else could you ask for? Oh, how ’bout when needed, the governor of a state can call our the NG to help in times of local emergencies. When called, units usually don’t do exactly what their Army mission trained them for, they usually adapt to the mission at hand.
    If our nation does not need combat power in the RC, then so be it. But don’t cherry pick your systems like you do your data…
    Integrity is still an Army Core Value, isn’t is?

    • Curtis Conway

      Great comment. Right on target.

  • Soandso

    Anyone else notice that whenever the author refers to NGAUS or AUSA in an article it’s nearly always prefaced by “the powerful?”

  • Gary Church

    I once asked a ex-cobra pilot why they did not sling load with attack helicopters and he gave me a pretty strange look. He then said the airframe was “too specialized.” If you could strip the gun, armor, and as much weight as possible out of an Apache would it be worth the trouble for sling loading in HADR (humanitarian and disaster relief- I had to look up that acronym)?
    I am just asking because if the Guard wants to hold on to their Apaches they could try and justify it with another mission. Just an idea.

  • Matt

    This is nothing more than a power grab by the nincompoops in charge and the National Guard’s top general just folded.

    My unit has had attack helicopters since ’93 and has never once lost a helicopter in flight or a soldier overseas either as a pilot or otherwise. We were recently awarded the Valorous Unit Award. Additionally, National Guard Apache technicians tend to know more than their Active Duty counterparts on the case of maintenance, because there isn’t so much bullshit (superfluous classes included) and red tape on the technician side of the National Guard. It’s just… come to work, do your job, and go home. Exact same thing for all the pilots.

  • Curtis Conway

    Any fair and level analysis will show that Guard and Reserve is the way to go with heavy combat power. This is an attempt by a shrinking Active Duty force trying to maintain relevance in a more austere budget (cost restrictive) environment that dictates that we demand the most return for our defense dollar. Guard and Reserve troops not only provide more ‘Bang for the Buck’, but are Citizen Soldiers who have ROOTS and understand their community, state, and nation in a manner that emulates that of the nature of our Founding Fathers, and are ready to sacrifice much to defend that community, state, and nation. Anyone who takes away from that, or disparages that in any way, are just not up front, forthright and above board, and it’s not American.

  • AJ

    There’s a problem with this article. The South Carolina guard is not the only unit to train other units for deck qualifications. My unit two years ago did deck quals over in Houston. Also, there are no more AH-64A left in the reserve, guard, or active. The last A model was retired in Houston in 2012. I was also there for that, it was a pretty huge ceremony….

  • RJ Sotog

    Maybe we should be looking at the funding for the Guard and the Reserve. The guard and the reserve are only funded at 50%. The units only got healthy once they deployed and were funded by OCO dollars. That open ended check book.
    But now, we are taking Apache’s away from the States, just like it was stated, there is no attack mission in the states, they need Blackhawks and Chinooks to perform the state mission.

  • Jonathan McClain

    Once again no emphasis on maintainers, what happens to us?