Cuts in state Guard units opposed 2 units to be eliminated in '93. Sen. Mikulski says she will "fight the budget battle."


Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., has told Maryland Army National Guard members she will fight to save their units from proposed budget cuts.

The 1729th Maintenance Company in Havre de Grace and the 1229th Transportation Company in Crisfield, with 330 people assigned to them, are scheduled to be eliminated in 1993.

More Maryland units could disappear if the Defense Department's proposed 37 percent cut in the Army National Guard is enacted.

Mikulski visited the 1729th unit in Havre de Grace yesterday to talk with Maj. Gen. James F. Fretterd, adjutant general of the Maryland National Guard, and members of the two units.

"It is shortsighted for the Army to target the National Guard when the Guard is cost-effective and did a magnificent job in the gulf war," Mikulski said. "The Maryland National Guard has done an excellent job over the years. We need it at full strength to enable the U.S. to respond quickly to emergencies both here at home and overseas."

Mikulski, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, vowed to "fight the budget battle" to prevent cuts in Maryland.

Maryland Army National Guard members emphasized the Guard's importance.

"The Guard has two missions: one is to respond to national crises when the president calls, and the second is to respond to statewide emergencies, natural or man-made," said Lt. Col. Howard S. Freedlander, spokesman for the Maryland National Guard. "No other military organization in the country has this dual mission."

The 1729th unit has won Department of Army awards for repairing surface vehicles, weapons, computers, generators and other Guard equipment, he said.

The 1229th unit, recently returned from the Persian Gulf, transports military goods across the country during peacetime, and carries fuel and ammunition during wartime.

Both units serve the 29th infantry division, which includes soldiers from Virginia and Maryland.

If the 37 percent cut is enacted, 139,000 Guard positions would be eliminated nationwide. In Maryland, that could translate to 2,515 fewer Guard jobs, out of 7,300 in the state, and the loss of 13 armories. The total economic impact would be $34.8 million, state Guard officials said.

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