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Tupelo National Guard Unit Targeted, Cochran Opposes Reduction

TUPELO, Miss.–A Mississippi-based Army National Guard unit has been targeted for being done away with during budget talks in DC. The 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team based out of Tupelo could be disbanded in a move meant to reduce U.S. troop numbers by 20,000 in the next couple of years.

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) said Wednesday that he opposes the Army’s plans for divestment of the brigade because it is a “highly-modernized” unit.

“The 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team ranks as one of the most experienced, capable and technologically-modernized brigades within the National Guard,” said Cochran, chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. “Given our current budget constraints, I question why there is a push to disassemble National Guard units like the 155th that cost significantly less to maintain than their active component counterparts.”

Cochran acknowledged the growing budget pressures on the U.S. Army but said he is unconvinced that the unit should be among the first targeted for divestment.

End strength for the U.S. Army and its Guard and Reserves was among the topics discussed Wednesday at a Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing to review the FY2016 budget request.

“There are a number of significant proposals and budgetary issues for the Army in the budget request that require careful attention, including the consequences of upholding statutory spending caps on defense strategy, readiness and force strength,” said Cochran.  “I look forward to working with the Army to support its needs and important role in protecting our national security.”

Under the current Army total force reduction, the Army National Guard is expected to draw down its level of soldiers from 355,000 in 2015 to 335,000 by 2017.  Those personnel levels could drop to an estimated 315,000 if sequestration funding levels are upheld.

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