HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and some fellow governors planned on Monday to offer an alternative to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's proposed shrinking of the Army National Guard.
While the governors understand the federal military budget needs to be cut, Malloy said they disagree with a plan to reduce the forces from 358,000 nationwide to 315,000. In an interview with The Associated Press, Connecticut's governor said the 315,000 figure would be lower than Sept. 11, 2001, levels.
Malloy said Connecticut could lose more than 500 positions. Under the governors' plan, forces nationally would drop to minimum of 335,000.
"We're not saying there don't have to be cuts. We're saying we have a better way," said Malloy, adding how a plan to cut the Army National Guard even further "doesn't make sense." He said the alternative offered by the governors would allow the Guard units to better respond to both national and state emergencies.
Malloy, a Democrat, sits on the bipartisan Council of Governors. The 10 chief executives work with the federal government on national security issues, including the National Guard. The group was scheduled to present its alternative plan on Monday evening in Washington, D.C.
He said President Barack Obama has expressed a willingness to discuss the proposed reductions. But Malloy said the president has been clear that cuts need to be made.
"How that's affected, I think that remains open discussion," Malloy said.
On Monday, Hagel proposed reducing the U.S. Army to its smallest size in 74 years, closing military bases and making other military reshaping. The plan, which also includes reducing the size of the Army National Guard, comes a week before Obama is to submit his 2015 budget plan to Congress. Hagel said U.S. forces must adjust to the reality of smaller budgets.
Malloy had been in Washington for the weekend, attending the National Governors Association's winter meeting.