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Senate derails Army bid to take Guard helicopters

July 20, 2014

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The Army has lost an initial Senate skirmish over a hotly disputed plan to take Apache attack helicopters away from National Guard units in a budget-cutting move that has infuriated governors and state military leaders.

The proposal, which would transfer dozens of the sleek Apache combat aircraft to active-duty units and give larger, multiuse Black Hawk helicopters to the Guard, has gotten high-level support at the Pentagon, including a visit to the Army’s aviation center at Fort Rucker last week by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

But the war-fighting arguments and billions of dollars in cost savings haven’t been enough to overcome lawmakers’ staunch support for their state units and their view that after 13 years of war, active-duty and Guard battalions must be interchangeable. Guard units deployed and fought in the Apaches in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they don’t want to give up their flashier ride in exchange for the Black Hawk, which is the military’s dependable workhorse.

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