Governor Fights for Combat Team Headquartered in Scranton

Governor Fights for Combat Team Headquartered in Scranton

Governor Tom Corbett is fighting back against plans to cut the Pennsylvania National Guard.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is fighting back against plans to potentially cut the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

Earlier this year, federal officials announced plans to cut the PA National Guard by more than ten-percent by eliminating a combat team headquartered in Scranton.

Governor Tom Corbett sent the Secretary of the Army a one-page letter Tuesday.

It calls plans to eliminate the 55th Armored Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, both "irresponsible and ill-advised."

Veterans like Walter Puchalski of Scranton agree with that assessment.

"I think it's a shame because we need these people. They're trained. They're on stand-by. It's not like we have to train somebody quick. These guys are on call," Puchalski said.

Tuesday, Governor Tom Corbett sent his letter to John McHugh, Secretary of the Army, urging him to reconsider.

The governor said the cuts would leave gaps in our national defense capabilities and the commonwealth's ability to respond to disasters.

He also cited US Code, which says forced structure changes can't be made without a governor's consent.

Corbett wrote, "I do not consent to the elimination of the 55th Armored Brigade Combat Team," going on to say, "I urge you to cancel this ill-advised reduction in force structure."

"I think it's insane," Al Rozelle of Scranton said. "The more protection that you have and people that are ready to go, they shouldn't even think about cutting that!"

At VFW Post 25 on Rockwell Avenue in Scranton, people agreed with the governor's letter.

In the past, Governor Corbett says he has written two other letters to the Secretary of Defense and President Barack Obama about the possibility of cuts.

"I hope it doesn't happen but we're fighting the Army, the federal government. It's not an easy thing to do," Puchalski said.

The potential changes are needed because of goals set by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the fact that fewer forces are needed overseas.

An exact number of people that would be impacted by any potential changes in northeastern Pennsylvania is currently unclear.
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