Politicians Appeal For Guard Units In Harford, Crisfield

April 21, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Contributing writer

Maryland Army National Guard unit in Havre de Grace has landed a couple of allies in its battle against a federal proposal to eliminate 12 jobs from its ranks.

Both Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski say they're opposed to Department of Defense cutsto the 1729th Maintenance Company, Havre de Grace, and the 1229th Transportation Company, Crisfield.

"I urge you to resist any cuts in the Army National Guard. The guard can fulfill its military mission, as we have seen, and it is costeffective," Mikulski wrote last week in a letter to Sen. Sam Nunn, the Georgia Democrat who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"It seems to me that our experience in Desert Storm resolved any doubts about the effectiveness of our guard and reserve units in wartime," Mikulski wrote in letters to Nunn and other chairs of defense-related subcommittees in both the House and Senate.

The cuts are partof the Army's plan to reduce 37 percent of the nation's guard strength. About 168,000 positions would be eliminated nationwide.

The other Maryland unit, headquartered in Crisfield with a detachment in Salisbury, remains in the Persian Gulf. The Havre de Grace unit was notdeployed to the Middle East.

Lt. Col. Howard S. Freedlander, a public affairs officer for the Maryland Army National Guard, said the House Armed Services Committee is expected to review the proposed restructuring of military services on May 15.

Freedlander said guard officials didn't know why these Maryland units were singled out.

The 1729th Maintenance Co. has 150 full- and part-time men and women inits ranks. The unit maintains and repairs tanks, small arms and weapon systems,food service equipment, generators and communications equipment.

Although the unit, organized in 1971, was not deployed to the Persian Gulf, Freedlander said the unit has been sent overseas forannual training.

"It's important that members of the community and families of these units realize we're doing everything we can to oppose these cuts," he said. "We are working very, very hard, along with the governor's office and the congressional delegation to fight thesecuts."

Grassroots efforts to fight the cuts have sprung up in other states, Freedlander said. He said guard units have a positive financial effect on the communities where they are located.

In his letter to Mikulski, Schaefer said the cutbacks in Harford County would mean the loss of $3.97 million in federal money. Freedlander said the bulk of that figure would be the loss in salaries in a single fiscal year.

"There is a spillover into the community," Freedlander said of the money at stake.

He noted that in fiscal 1990, which endedSept. 30, the federal government spent about $14.4 million in Harford County. That includes money spent on salaries, drill weekends, annual training and special schools for all guard units in the county.

Havre de Grace Mayor Gunther Hirsch said, "I really don't think at this point there will be much of an impact. We're talking about a dozen jobs. The National Guard is still going to be here."

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