Proposed Plan Would Cut Florida National Guard by 10%

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Defense budget cuts may soon effect the Panhandle.

The US Army is considering eliminating 35,000 National Guard positions nationwide.

Florida is on the hook for 1,000 of those positions.

If the army goes through with the proposed cuts, Florida could lose as much as 10% of it's current 10,000 troop level.

Officials say Florida's Guard is one of the smallest when you measure the ratio of soldiers to civilians.

"Florida has been growing tremendously in the past few decades. We are almost on the verge of becoming the third largest state in the nation however; the National Guard of Florida has not appreciatively grown over the same time period," said Lt. Col. James Evans, Director of Public Affairs for Florida National Guard.

Col. Evans points out that Florida is the most disaster prone state in the nation, and cutting guardsmen could severely affect their ability to respond to emergencies.

He said, "First of all your losing a thousand soldiers. Second of all you may have longer response times because perhaps the units that may have been in the affected area is no longer there and we may have to travel for instance Miami to the Panhandle."

Lt. Col. Glenn Sutphin argues that scaling back now will also make Florida's 19 million residents more vulnerable to outside threats like terrorists.

He said, "It does not look like the bad guys, whoever they might be, have gotten lesser in numbers or any friendlier and so we're very, very concerned."

Army officials have not released specific details about the proposed cuts, but say they also plan to reduce the size of Florida's National Guard helicopter fleet.

Col. Evans says they'll have more details about the number of cuts and the timetable after the President releases his proposed budget in March.


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