FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 22, 2004
With Reserves & Guards Like 105th Mp Overextended, Schumer Calls For Increase In Army's Active Duty Personnel
Schumer: Soldiers do great job but cannot be asked to serve more than a year with families and jobs waiting back home; Increasing active duty personnel will cut down on likelihood of extended stays for Guard and reserves
105th Military Police Company based at Masten Avenue Armory in Buffalo was activated in February, 2003 and has been in Iraq since April; Unit was supposed to return nex
Standing with family members of the 105th Military Police Company stationed in Iraq, US Senator Charles E. Schumer said today that the Army should increase its number of active duty personnel in order to reduce the burden currently placed on reserve and guard units. Last week, the 105th Military Police company, based at the Masten Avenue Armory in Buffalo, was told that its stay has been extended beyond its expected April departure, leaving it in Iraq for over a year.
"The men and women of the 105th Military Police Company are a perfect example of why we need to increase our number of active duty personnel," Schumer said. "For them to have been away from their families for over a year, look forward to an April return, and then be told they have to stay even longer sends the wrong message to other Americans who may consider joining the National Guard or reserves. We want to encourage others to serve our country and the best way to do that is to treat them with respect and make sure that the duties placed on them are reasonable. Beefing up the regular force will reduce the burden on our reservists and guardsmen, and that's a good thing."
When the 105th Military Police Company was told last week that its stay has been extended beyond April, family members became concerned that the stay had been extended indefinitely. Schumer called the Army and demanded a firm date for which the men and women and their families could expect them to return home. Schumer learned from Brigadier General Guy Swan, Chief of Legislative Liasion for the Army, that the unit will be leaving Iraq on May 4th plus or minus 4-5 days for transport scheduling and will be demobilized and their service deemed complete on June 17.
To limit future service extensions for reserve and guard units, Schumer said he supported increasing the number of active duty personnel by approximately 30,000 men and women. According to the US Army, its currently authorized "end strength" (number of soldiers) is approximately 485,000. Schumer said he supports bipartisan legislation proposed by Jack Reed (Rhode Island), that would raise the level to 512,400. The Department of Defense has also requested that the active duty personnel be raised to this level.
"Plain and simple, the best way to cut down on the likelihood that reservists and guardsmen will have their stays extended is to boost the Army's active duty personnel levels," Schumer said. "We are already heavily involved in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a lack of active duty troops is causing us to lean more heavily on members of our Guardsmen and Reservists. When these brave men and women leave their everyday lives behind to serve overseas, their spouses and children shouldn't have to play guessing games with their return dates."
The approximately 170 men and women of the 105th MP were activated in February of 2003, trained at Army facilities in the United States, and arrived in Iraq in April of 2003.