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McSally voices opposition to decision to disband Marana-based battalion

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

PHOENIX — U.S. Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) publicly criticized Army Secretary Mark Esper’s decision to disband a unit based in southern Arizona during a House committee hearing on Tuesday.

“I want to note for the record that I remain strongly opposed to the Army’s decision to close down Apache battalions in the National Guard while at the same time growing attack aviation battalions from scratch in the active duty force,” McSally said.

“As I have said many times, this wastes millions of dollars and thousands of years of specialized experience invested in hundreds of pilots and maintainers.”

McSally made her comments during a House Armed Services Committee hearing in response to Esper’s decision to dismantle the 1-285th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion in Marana, Arizona.

The battalion would, under the current plan, be shut down by the end of the year. It currently flies the AH-64 Apache and supports Army operations.

McSally, a retired Air Force combat pilot, argued that the decision to shutter the battalion was “unnecessary” in the wake of President Donald Trump’s latest spending bill, which included “the largest increase to defense funding” in years.

“We went to the mat to fight for more resources for our military over these last months,” She said.

“And the very week the budget deal was signed into law, a combat-ready unit in Arizona was told to transfer its Apaches and shut down, and a Pennsylvania company will come home from deployment and lower their flag.”

Tuesday was not the first time McSally voiced her opposition to Esper’s decision: In January, her and Rep. Tom O’Halleran, (D-Ariz.), joined two Pennsylvania members in sending a letter to Esper and Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley.

The lawmakers urged the duo to reconsider the decision while questioning the efficiency of using mobile training teams to train Apache pilots, requested documents related to aviation units and asked that Apache transfer orders be suspended until documents could be reviewed, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

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