FORT WAYNE – Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., is pushing six amendments to the defense authorization bill, including one inspired in part by the Army National Guard regiment in Fort Wayne.
Donnelly has sponsored an amendment that would limit the cancellation of deployments by National Guard and Reserve units. On Tuesday, he told the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Airland that active-duty troops replaced four units of the Indiana National Guard not long before their scheduled overseas deployments.
The decision had wide-ranging impacts on over 1,000 families’ health care, financial decisions, educational plans and housing, Donnelly told the panel, of which he is a member, according to a statement from his office.
He said the units were placed at the bottom of the rotation for future deployments, causing an incredible impact on morale, retention and training, according to a transcript of his remarks.
The units include the 1st Battalion, 293rd Infantry Regiment based in Fort Wayne. Its 500 members and a 100-member Terre Haute unit were to have gone to East Africa this month for a yearlong security mission. They and 400 Guard members based in Scottsburg and New Albany, who were bound for Egypt, learned over the winter that their deployments were being canceled.
Donnelly also offered an amendment that would ensure continued training for military personnel in protection against improvised explosive devices.
It is crucial that the lessons we have learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not lost, he said.
Another amendment would have the Air Force consider upgrading the C-130H aircraft to meet fuel economy goals. The planes transport troops and cargo and are used for medical evacuations, disaster relief and aerial firefighting.
Donnelly offered three amendments at a Tuesday hearing of the Armed Forces Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, of which he is a member. One would require the Pentagon to assess new tools for screening military personnel for mental health needs and suicide risk factors; another would ensure an adequate reserve of meals ready to eat; and another would assess incinerator technologies that can also produce energy for U.S. military bases.