(January 9, 2018) The Army National Guard will fly AH-64 Apache attack helicopters in Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah, the Army announced Friday.
The Army had planned to remove all Apache units from the Guard through an Aviation Restructuring Initiative made public in 2014. The Guard had eight units at the time.
NGAUS and the Army Guard fought the move, pointing out that it would eliminate a combat reserve of Apaches. NGAUS and the Guard asked for six battalions. Congress created a commission to study that proposal and other issues regarding the Army and its reserve components. The National Commission on the Future of the Army eventually recommended that four Apache helicopter units remain in the Guard.
The Guard units that will fly the Apache are the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 130th Aviation, of North Carolina; the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 151st Aviation, of South Carolina; the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 149th Aviation, of Texas; and the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 211th Aviation, of Utah. The Texas regiment has a company in the Mississippi Guard.
Arizona and Pennsylvania will lose their Apache units. There is no word yet on what will replace them. Idaho and Missouri had Apaches when ARI was announced, but those units transitioned to UH-60 Black Hawks in 2016.
The units that remain will have only 18 aircraft, not 24 as active-component battalions have. In a statement Tuesday, the NGAUS president said Guard units should be equipped just as they are in the active-component.
“Today’s quickly emerging threats make readiness paramount, and 18 aircraft are six fewer than an Apache battalion need to deploy,” retired Brig. Gen. Roy Robinson said. “This means Guard Apache battalions will never have enough aircraft to train they way they are supposed to fight. And each would have to borrow six aircraft to go to war.”
Robinson points out, too, that the active component has a shortage of Apache pilots.
“The decision to keep just four effectively cuts two battalions of Apache pilots when the Army and the nation urgently need them,” Robinson said.
The entire NGAUS statement can be found here.