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Rahall opposes cuts to National Guard budget

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As Congress works on negotiating the defense budget ahead of the so-called fiscal cliff, Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is asking members to leave the National Guard alone.

Rahall signed a bipartisan, bicameral letter to the chairman and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees last week, asking they protect the West Virginia Air National Guard from cuts to its force structure and manpower as proposed in the U.S. Air Force budget submission earlier this year. The Air Guard budget cuts, which were proposed without input from governors and adjutant generals, would result in the loss of 193 Air Guard personnel in West Virginia, according to Rahall's office.

"At a time when our military faces intense pressures due to multiple deployments abroad and federal budget austerity at home, I intend to keep fighting to ensure that the West Virginia National Guard has the resources and support it needs to remain a model of excellence," Rahall said in a statement.

Rahall's letter asks for the freezing of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve force structure and manpower for the 2013 fiscal year and for the establishment of a National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force to provide a more transparent mechanism for addressing the Guard's budget going forward.

Rahall joined other members of West Virginia's congressional delegation earlier this year in elevating the National Guard to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Rahall said he believes the Guard's input should be considered as part of any deficit reduction effort that could affect the military.

"These are very tough and austere budgetary times," he said. "I am going to fight hard to protect the needs of our men and women in uniform and fight to ensure they have every resource necessary to fulfill their missions."