By: Annie Konduros
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagle is proposing a budget that would make drastic changes to the South Carolina National Guard. Twenty-four Apache helicopters now assigned to South Carolina's McIntire Joint National Guard Base would be moved to active duty army unites.
The Apaches would be replaced by Blackhawk transport. helicopters.
The South Carolina National Guard Apaches have been flown in combat in Kuwait and Afghanistan, and Major Cindi King says the guard has been vital since 9-11.
"Our soldiers have deployed more than 18,000 times. We have to have that capability to support our state and nation when we are needed," says King.
The National Guard knows the Apache fleet assignments are controlled from Washington, but some members are concerned about the effectiveness of the Guard if the fleet were to be removed.
Barry Lewis is a former Guard member who worked on the Apaches.
"What we have now with the national guard is a lot of experience and a lot of dedicated people," he said.
USC has a test center for Apache helicopter parts where students check rotors and tail assembleys. Students may no longer be able to test the apache systems if the fleet is taken away.
"We saved the army on one component alone almost $2 million dollars a year," says Grad student Travis Edwards.
No decision on the move has been made. Some South Carolina legislators are promising to stop the move.