(September 15, 2015) Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chief of staff of the Army, received the inevitable question Friday about the Army's Aviation Restructure Initiative when he addressed the 137th General Conference & Exhibition in Nashville, Tenn. The ARI would remove all AH-64 Apache helicopters from the Army National Guard, a move that has been controversial and is opposed by NGAUS.
His entire one-hour speech is available on the NGAUS YouTube page at www.youtube.com/ngaus1878.
At the urging of NGAUS, Congress created the National Commission on the Future of the Army to study the aviation plan and consider the overall structure of the service. Milley, who has been the chief of staff for about one month, said in his Senate testimony after his nomination that he would wait for the commission's recommendations.
He said last week he agrees "in general" that the Army Guard "should more or less be structured the same," but said they are not mirror images of each other and should not be.
"Every one of our organizations is uniquely structured," he said.
He continued, "I don't want to give you a false perception that I agree that everyone should look precisely the same because I don't, because it's not a reflection of reality. Having said that, I do believe that the National Guard is, in fact, a combat reserve."
If a full-scale war takes place, he said, it would "basically consume the active component very, very quickly."
Therefore, he said, the combat reserve would be needed.
"And I have a personal responsibility as the chief of staff of the entire Army to make sure that combat reserve is trained, is manned and, yes, equipped to be able to do that function. And that includes not only ground maneuvers in terms of infantry and armor, but that includes aviation. So I have to take a hard look at [ARI]. I am not going to stand here and say, 'Oh, yeah, I'm going to reverse it.' That was a decision made prior to my time as chief."
He said the Army secretary has signed off on the plan and studies have shown its value.
"I am going to do what I said I'd do in my testimony with respect to ARI," he said, noting that the Army commission is taking a serious look at the plan.