Utah National Guard may lose Apache capability

WEST DESERT, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – The Utah National Guard is training Apache crews for their wartime missions, but they may not be able to for much longer.

It is basically a flying tank. The AH-64 Apache is the Army's primary attack helicopter.
It is designed to do massive damage and can zero in on small targets at any time.

"It has a few different configurable weapon systems,” said Erik Price, Tactical Operations Officer for the Utah National Guard.

It is not every day that Utah guardsmen have the chance to practice employing rockets.

"It takes many years and experience to get competent and qualified individuals," explained Lt. Col. Steven Fairbourn, Public Affairs Officer for the Utah National Guard.

The airmen are taking advantage of the opportunity while they still can.

It's no secret the military has to downsize under the country's budget sequestration.
These servicemen say Apache crews will be some of the first to go.

"The current army restructuring plan has a consolidation that is going to try to make it a smaller force but still a very competent force, so it is a strategy, but we'd like to think it's not the strategy," said Fairbourn.

If the proposal goes through, all 45 of Utah’s apache line pilots will have to find another job or just retire.

But they say their jobs aren't the issue. It's about the national security Utah Guard Apaches provide.

"If they are all relocated to the active component, in times of need, the national guard will not have that capability to back them up in times of a surge," said Fairbourn.

The relocation would affect everyone on a state level as well.

"In times of natural disasters and others, it is a tremendous search and rescue vehicle, a tremendous reconnaissance vehicle that can be used for the state under the governor's direction,” said Fairbourn.

The Utah Guard is now pushing for a military commission to reassess the situation.
They're asking for public insight and involvement as well.

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