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Utah National Guard to keep Apache helicopters

WEST JORDAN – There are a lot of relived people at the Utah National Guard Armory.  After four years of waiting, they’ve been informed by top military leaders that they’ll be able to keep their fleet of Apache helicopters.  Some military officials were considering consolidating them back into the regular Army.

This was about a lot more than the 11 Apache helicopters currently at the armory.  Lieutenant Colonel Ricky Smith says the 211th Division would have been dissolved, and roughly 400 employees would have been affected.  He says, “We would have lost all our helicopters.  We would have lost the personnel that went with it.  It would have been a tremendous hit to the Utah National Guard.”

Military leaders decided to allow four of the bases across the country on the chopping block to keep their assets.  Smith says proficient work kept Utah above the cut line.  “Utah is a hotbed for very qualified people,” he says.

The Guard would have tried to find jobs for any affected workers, but, Smith says it’s not always possible for guardsmen to switch from one job to another.  “Some of the guys at the higher levels need to be very specialized in whatever battalion.  You just can’t take a higher level guy and pluck him into, say, an artillery battalion and be fine,” according to Smith.

Plus, most people enlisted in the National Guard wouldn’t want to join the regular Army.  Smith says top Army officials issued a call to enlist in full time service, and, “There just weren’t a whole lot of takers to that.  Part of the allure of being in the National Guard is you can maintain and be successful on the civilian side, as well.”