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Tank unit will leave Tucson, Rep. Kyl says


The 8th Battalion 40th Armor’s mission will be transferred to Nevada.

Arizona’s 8th Battalion 40th Armor, with headquarters in Tucson, is slated to be shut down and its mission transferred to Nevada, according to congressional sources.

U.S. Rep. Jon Kyl, R-Phoenix, said yesterday that officials associated with the 63rd U.S. Army Reserve Command briefed members of the 8/40 over the weekend and, for the first time, informed members of the unit that it will be deactivated.

Kyl said mission functions, but not personnel, from the armored unit are set to be transferred to the Nevada National Guard. Kyl said Pentagon officials indicated the deactivation will take effect in 1997.

Closure of the 8/40 could result in the loss of 642 Army Reserve positions in Arizona. The unit has companies in Phoenix and Fort Huachuca that also would be closed under the plan.

“I am still not convinced that the Army can justify this deactivation and transfer of the mission to the Nevada National Guard on its merits,’ said Kyl. “We need to ensure Arizona is not on the losing end of partisan politics.’

While Kyl said he generally supports efforts to reduce Guard and Reserve forces commensurate with reductions in active forces, “It makes little sense to me that the Pentagon would want to simply transfer the 8th Battalion 40th Armor from Arizona to Nevada.’

Kyl, a Phoenix Republican who is running for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Sen. Dennis DeConcini, said he will try to persuade Pentagon officials to keep the Army Reserve units in Arizona.

“If there is no way of saving the 8th Battalion 40th Armor, I believe we should be looking to replace the unit with another Reserve component with a different mission. I plan to meet with representatives of the Army to explore this option further.’

The 8/40 is stationed at the Tucson Reserve Center, 1750 E. 29th St. Personnel stationed at the Reserve Center declined to comment about the report from Kyl or Defense Department plans and referred questions to military officials with the 63rd U.S. Army Reserve Command, which oversees more than 100 Guard and Reserve units in Arizona, Nevada and southern California.

Officials with the 63rd U.S. Army Reserve Command were unavailable last night.

Last month, outgoing Defense Secretary Les Aspin announced a major restructuring of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve. Approximately 100,000 personnel cuts are necessary to meet the Department of Defense goal of reducing to 575,000 the number of reserve troops by 1999.

“The people committed to the Arizona Army Reserve are some of the best trained and best educated in the country,’ said Kyl. “The Army would be remiss ignoring this talented team.’

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