By GRANT SCHULTE
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska Army National Guard is planning to offer new training and job opportunities to soldiers as it launches its biggest overhaul of services in 20 years, Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Tuesday.
Ricketts said the restructuring will affect units in 16 Nebraska communities, primarily in central and western parts of the state.
Roughly 1,100 of the Nebraska Guard’s 3,600 soldiers could be retrained for new jobs, but no armories will be closed and the size of the total force will remain about the same. The number of soldiers at specific stations may change as they’re trained for new missions.
Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac, Nebraska’s adjutant general, said many of the local transportation companies will shift to perform other duties. As a result, he said, soldiers will have more career opportunities available within the region and they may not have to travel as far.
“We’re excited about this,” Bohac said. “This is a great change. This is a game-changer for soldiers.”
Bohac said the realignment will increase the Guard’s ability to respond to state and national emergencies, and the new job opportunities could encourage more soldiers to re-enlist.
The plan will eliminate many of the Guard’s transportation companies, which haul equipment and personnel, and replace them with military police, engineering and field maintenance units.
The changes are part of a larger reorganization taking place nationally throughout the Army National Guard. The plan in Nebraska will affect units in Lincoln, Omaha, Beatrice, Columbus, York, Hastings, Kearney, Grand Island, Mead, O’Neill, Broken Bow, North Platte, McCook, Sidney, Scottsbluff, and Chadron.
Bohac said the changes will begin in early January and will take about three years to complete
The Army announced plans several months ago to shrink its force from 490,000 active-duty soldiers to 450,000, resulting in an estimated $7 billion savings over four years.