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Ohio Army Guard postpones drills to save money

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CINCINNATI (AP) — The Ohio Army National Guard is postponing most of its planned training in early September because of federal budget issues.

The Ohio National Guard's adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst, made the announcement Friday evening in videos posted on the guard's website and on social media. She said drills were being rescheduled to the end of the month for now in hopes of congressional action on funding.

She said guards across the country are facing cutbacks because of a federal budget shortfall. The Army National Guards of Hawaii and Guam also said Friday they are postponing upcoming drills.

There was no immediate response Saturday to messages left seeking comment from the Ohio National Guard and the Pentagon.

Most Guard members are part time, many with full-time civilian jobs. The guards function as reserve armed forces and can be activated by the president for U.S. military action or called out by their governors to help cope with state emergencies such as natural disasters or civil unrest.

"We're very much aware that this action will be at best an inconvenience for all of you and will have varying degrees of economic impact across the force," Ashenhurst said in her video message. "We're taking this action as a last resort."

She said the guard has already cut back in other areas. The training being rescheduled could be canceled outright if funding doesn't become available, she said.

"None of us are happy about this interruption of our normal training routine," she said. "But you have our word that we are doing everything in our power to ensure that you are the best-trained National Guard in the history of the force."

She supervises the overall Ohio National Guard that includes the Army National Guard, Air National Guard, Ohio Military Reserve and Ohio Naval Militia, totaling more than 17,000 people.

Ohio Guard members last month delivered bottled water and operated purification systems in northwest Ohio after Gov. John Kasich declared a state of emergency in three counties because of unsafe water supplies. The Missouri National Guard was called last month to Ferguson, Missouri, amid violent protests over the fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old by a white police officer.

Some 500,000 guard members have been mobilized for federal missions including overseas combat duty since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the National Guard Bureau says.

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