The Department of Defense has released details of a plan that would remove all Apache helicopters from the National Guard and move them to the Army. The plan is being called "Bold Move."
The Commander of the Pennsylvania National Guard says it is a bad move for Pennsylvania, which is the third largest Guard unit in the nation.
"This will have a huge negative impact on the National Guard and on our capability here in Pennsylvania. I do not agree with it," said Major General Wesley Craig, Adj. General Pa. National Guard.
The Army says they need a new scout helicopter to go with their attack helicopters on missions. They plan to remove all Apaches from the National Guard and give them to the Army. There are 24 Apache based in Pennsylvania, eight at Fort Indiantown Gap.
"Less aircraft to fly in the state means less full-time and part-time slots. Those pilots would have to be transitioned into other aircraft, but quite frankly I have too many pilots and not enough aircraft. Some of them may be asked to leave," said Major General Craig.
The Army has already removed half of the National Guard's Lakota Helicopters. That decision effected the Lakota training facility based out of Capital City airport in New Cumberland, which is already in the process of being moved to Arizona.
Major General Craig also has safety concerns. If the Apache are removed from the National Guard, all of the support vehicles that work with the aircraft will also be transferred—equipment, he says, that has been used during emergency response in Pennsylvania.
"We use all the ground equipment anytime there is a domestic emergency. We used transport vehicles in Hurricane Sandy, Irene and with Lee," said General Wesley Craig. "It will have a negative impact on our ability in Pennsylvania to respond to an emergency here in the state, losing soldiers and capabilities will definitely hurt."
The National Guard estimates dozens of part and full time jobs will be lost in Pennsylvania alone.
The Army says they based the plan on Pentagon recommendations. Congress will have the final say and is expected to make a decision in the spring.