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Fla. Army National Guard may soon see cuts

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Updated: 1/31 7:51 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The size of Florida's Army National Guard could be much smaller soon.

The National Guard is trying to downsize in efforts to deal with sequester cuts.

Ed Kalakauskis still cherishes the National Guard uniform that he's worn for the bulk life of his life.

"Probably about 39 plus years," said Kalakauskis.

Fortunately for Kalakauskis he retired as a Guardsman six years ago.

He said luckily before the army proposed a new budget plan for 2015-2016 that would reduce the National Guard by 10 percent to deal with sequester cuts.

"What does it cost to defend our country and our state? Are we willing to pay that money, what do you take from to defend your country and your state mission," said Kalakauskis.

Overall, the cuts would drop the Guard from about 350,000 members down to 315,000, with about 1,000 positions cut in Florida.

Major General Emmett Titshaw spoke with our news partner WOKV today.

He said this would have a tremendous impact. Titshaw said for example-in 2004-05 Florida borrowed guards from different places just to help out with huge storms during hurricane season.

The Guard responds to natural disasters like hurricanes-fires, and terrorists type situations so decreasing the number of Guardsmen who are on standby around the clock would leave some areas uncovered.

"Reducing Guardsmen by 1,000 in our state would really put us at a disadvantage and take away the quick response and the agility we have to move our own organic forces around in this state," said Titshaw.

Titshaw said he's fighting to keep up the morale of the soldiers high so that they continue to serve the nation.

Kalakauskis said he hopes the Army is not willing to risk our protection.

"Are we willing to pay or sacrifice, or are we willing to say OK if we have a natural disaster what risk her we willing to take," said Kalakauskis.

Some local Guardsmen are headed to Washington on Saturday morning to meet with leaders about the proposed cuts.

There's a bill in Congress that would delay the plan to forgo the cuts and keep the number of Guard members at the current 350,000.
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