BILL CRAWFORD: Cochran’s clout key in keeping the 155th



The Tupelo Tea Party last week distributed a disinformation flyer concerning the National Guard’s 155th Brigade Combat Team in Mississippi.

The flyer’s premise was that the historic 155th will be shut down because Sen. Thad Cochran voted to confirm Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense and Hagel is a “yes man” for President Barack Obama.

“It’s time Senator Cochran is held responsible for putting Mississippi in this situation,” says the flyer.

False premise. Twisted facts.

In reality, the Tea Party put Mississippi in this situation.

It was the Tea Party push for budget cuts that resulted in the “sequester” that slashes $500 billion from military budgets over 10 years. Such steep cuts require reductions in force.

Mississippi is blessed with more than its share of outstanding active duty military, National Guard, and Air National Guard missions and facilities. That didn’t happen by accident. Sen. Cochran, former Sen. Trent Lott, former Congressman and now Sen. Roger Wicker, the late Congressman G. V. “Sonny” Montgomery, and former Congressman Gene Taylor – all of whom had clout on defense or appropriations committees – spent years building up these missions and facilities. Newer congressmen have helped maintain them.

As the military makes cuts, our numerous missions and facilities can’t help but be impacted, along with those in other states. Fighting off Army, Navy, and Air Force attempts to make deep cuts to Mississippi units will be hard.

The issue with the 155th is part of an intense tug-of-war between Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, and National Guard leadership. Odierno wants to maintain as many active duty combat-ready units as possible. The National Guard says its combat-ready units should stay because they cost one-third of what active duty units cost. (Hagel wants fewer, better armed, active duty units.)

Odierno would deactivate six National Guard Brigade Combat Teams from 28 nationwide. The 155th could be one of them. The active duty Army also covets the Apache attack helicopters at the 155th Army Aviation Support Facility in Tupelo.

Sen. Cochran and other Republican members of the Mississippi congressional delegation are on top of this issue. Early last week, the senator joined with Tea Party favorite Sen. Mike Lee, Sen. Lindsey Graham and others to introduce legislation that would halt the active duty Army plan. Congressman Steven Palazzo voted later in the week to include a provision in the House Defense Authorization Bill that does the same.

Just as it takes congressional clout to gain military missions and facilities, it will take clout to keep them. We learned that lesson well during the BRAC rounds. So, Tupelo Tea Party, if we want to keep the 155th, we need to keep Sen. Cochran. Nobody has and uses clout for our military as well as he does.

Bill Crawford ( is a syndicated columnist from Meridian. He chaired the Navy Meridian Team during 1990 base closure rounds and coordinated the state BRAC defense for Gov. Haley Barbour in 2005.

  • Barryjohn7714

    I have to agree with the Tea Party folks that Hagel and support of Hagel are problems. Yes, Sequester caused military budget cuts. If congress, including Cochran, could have been more sane about the US budget, the forced cuts would not have been necessary. Hagel, as Secretary of State has a lot of say over what cuts to make. Hagel, who favors Iran over Israel, is very bad for our US Military and Cochran’s support for him cannot be justified. McDaniel is the most courageous candidate for national office that MS has seen in a long time. In Washington, there is an extreme left agenda to diminish the American Military and to manage a decline of America to third world status. McDaniel will NOT SURRENDER to the Washington Left and will not compromise our values in order bring home bails of borrowed money.

    • 1941641

      “third world status” Glad you mentioned that. That’s the definition I have been trying to think of to describe the likely results of McDaniel and his Tea Party Politics!

      • 1941641

        Go back in political history for several years and see if you can ascertain who the Republican was that gave us Rumsfeld? That would be a subject worthy of comment for the next century. And, that war was left unpaid for even after all that loss of American and Iraqi lives. Scandalous!

  • willerz

    If Cochran has so much clout, then he can also be blamed for getting Hagel into that position to begin with. He did not oppose Hagel, like Roger Wicker, and other Republicans did. So basically, you are trying to put Cochran up as the savior of the problem that he helped create. No thanks!

  • Cindy Wood Wilkerson

    Cochran not only supported Hagel, he lobbied other Republicans HARD to put aside their reservations and support him. Sequestration would never have happened if Cochran and the other Legislators who have been in office for decades had not spent this nation into 17 TRILLION in debt. The blame the tea party bit is so old. If Cochran can’t own his votes, spending and YES role in helping Hagel get confirmed, then he does not need to spend another term in DC. I for one am beyond tired of the lack of personal responsibility among the elected in DC and Cochran has become the poster child.

  • barney fife

    The GOP – aka the party of NO – has held the country hostage for entirely to long. Vote the bums out!

  • Dannie Reed

    What planet is this reporter from. The Tea Party caused the sequester,, when you start out with a complete lie the rest is surely the same. Outrageous spending and failure to tax by both parties with Cochran in the lead in only two years he actually was the chair of Approp. generated a deficite each year and now a nearly 20 trillion dollar national debt. Cochran for nearly 40 years has done more to damage the finances and the military boots on the ground by exorbitant spending on corporations high cost of military equipment contracts and for Bushes war. If Cochran has clout and supported Hagel,, why does this come up.. Cochran has NO Real Power for the people of Mississippi,, He is compromised to the hilt for his own corporate friends,, I dotn Trust HIM>

  • vechorik

    Where is the link to what you referenced? Isn’t that standard journalism procedure?
    “The Tupelo Tea Party last week distributed a disinformation flyer
    concerning the National Guard’s 155th Brigade Combat Team in
    I’d like to read it because there are two sides to every story.

  • vechorik

    The Tea Party flier you referenced without link is here:
    “SAVE THE 155TH.

    President Obama wants U. S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to decrease the size of the U. S. Army to it’s lowest levels since before World War II according to the New York Times. Chuck Hagel is a “YES MAN” and Senator Cochran was the first Republican in line to support this “YES MAN.” ( See reference below) None of these men seem to want to take responsibility. Our government
    has squandered taxpayer money funding countless projects and have failed to cut spending. Now they want to put America at risk by gutting the military in Mississippians and abroad. This could be disastrous for our state and will cost possibly thousands of jobs both military and civilian. Find out details below and what you can do to help SAVE THE 155TH.


    The 155th Infantry is one of only nineteen Army National Guard units with campaign credit for the War of 1812, and the only one from a state west of the Appalachians. It has credit for the Florida (1814) and New Orleans Campaigns.

    They were known as the “Mississippi Rifles” under the command of Colonel Jefferson Davis in the war with Mexico. They acquired this nickname because the regiment was the first in American history to have an official issue rifled musket (M1841 Mississippi Rifle) instead of a smoothbore musket. It was at the Battle of Buena Vista when other American units began to be overrun by the Mexicans that Col. Davis gave the now-famous order, “Stand fast, Mississippians!” The regiment stood their ground and the battle was eventually won. Davis’ order later became the regimental motto STAND FAST MISSISSIPPIANS!

    Call your representatives! Save the 155TH

    How this affects Mississippi:
    1. These are just some of the areas to have job loss if Obama’s plan is
    implemented – Tupelo, Hattiesburg, Grenada, Meridian, Biloxi and more.

    2. It will not only hurt families by costing military jobs but civilian
    jobs as well.

    3.It is a flawed approach to cut the 155th Brigade Combat Team based on
    personnel numbers rather than combat readiness and also especially in
    relation to Hurricane disaster relief based in strategic locations.

    4. The 155th is one of only two combat teams in the entire Army
    National Guard that is fully modernized with the same equipment that the
    Active Duty units have. Why would eliminate a fully modernized unit,
    while retaining less capable units with equipment that cannot operate
    with their active duty compatriots?

    5. Loss of the 155th will have MILLIONS of dollars of economic impact on
    throughout the state.

    6. By eliminating the 155th the nation will have squandered MILLIONS of
    dollars in equipping and training the brigade with the newest equipment.
    This would leave us vulnerable and less ready to defend or nation.

    7. The 155th ABCT is the seventh oldest standing military organization
    the US Army with over 216 years of service to the nation. The 155th has
    met every mark set forth by the nation in readiness. This along with the
    loss of TUPELO’s Apache Helicopters would reduce the Mississippi Guard
    to bottom nationally.

    8. A decision brief by the NBG is scheduled for May 22nd in which the
    155th will be listed as a unit selected for elimination so it’s VERY

    Some credit is due for Senator Wicker who did not support Chuck Hagel
    but Senator Cochran was Hagel’s lead supporter. It’s time Senator
    Cochran is held responsible for putting Mississippi in this situation.
    Call Senator Cochran and Senator Wicker as well as our Congressmen
    Senator Thad Cochran
    Washington, D.C. Office
    (202) 224-5054

    NOTE: Senator Cochran and his staff are skilled at deceiving
    constituents by pretending to stand against Obama while voting with him
    and his agenda. He is already pretending to be trying to solve this
    situation with the 155th. However, it’s kind of like fighting against
    Obamacare while funding it. Thad’s support for this “YES MAN-Chuck
    Hagel” brought us to this point where the 155th is potentially on the
    chopping block. Read below…this came from Senator Cochran’s own
    website posted on Feb. 27th, 2013 Elections have consequences.

    WASHINGTON, D.C.-Mississippi’s senators were split on the vote to
    confirm former Republican Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel to replace Leon
    Panetta as Sec. of Defense. The vote, taken Tuesday, was 58-41 in favor.
    It was controversial, with cloture previously invoked, which
    essentially meant a delay to reconsider. Many Republicans considered
    Pres. Obama’s appointment of Hagel as a deliberate attempt to vex them,
    citing his controversial positions on Israel, Iran, homosexuality and
    what he referred to as the “Jewish lobby” in Washington.
    The Senate nearly toed the party line, with Mississippi’s Thad Cochran
    being one of only four Republicans to vote yes, according to the roll
    call. He sent News Mississippi the following statement:
    “Chuck Hagel feels strongly that the United States should be the most
    capable military power in the world. He also believes the United States
    must continue to be committed to Israel’s security and its ability to
    defend its borders,” said Chochran.
    “At a time when our adversaries continue to increase their arsenals of
    rockets and missiles and to develop medium and long range ballistic
    missiles that threaten our security, the security of our deployed
    forces, and the security of our friends and allies, it is imperative
    that we continue to develop, field and maintain a robust missile defense
    capability. I know Senator Hagel is supportive of these efforts, and I
    will be pleased to join with him in further advancing these priorities,”
    he said.
    “Throughout his distinguished career in public service, Senator Hagel
    has proven himself to be a fair, intelligent and courageous leader of
    good character and integrity.”
    Meanwhile Sen. Roger Wicker did not agree with Cochran’s assessment and
    believes Hagel was an unimpressive nominee. He said in his statement,
    though, that he hoped he was wrong and that Hagel would be an
    outstanding Sec. of Defense.
    “Like many of my colleagues, I raised serious and substantive concerns
    during the confirmation process about Sen. Hagel’s record of troubling
    statements and positions, which fall well outside the bipartisan
    mainstream. Our troops and allies need to rely on the words of the next
    secretary of defense, and they deserved much more comprehensive answers
    from this nominee, in my view. I hope that misgivings about Sen. Hagel
    will be allayed and replaced with increased confidence gained as a
    result of his service at the Pentagon. Although I believed there were
    more suitable candidates – both Democrats and Republicans – I offer
    Senator Hagel my congratulations on his confirmation as secretary of

  • 1941641

    In light of the ill-informed commentary I have read here today, Senator Cochran will be a shoo-in come June 3rd!

    • Oberon

      Shoo-in. I guess you Vietnam dodging party self has a different opinion now.

  • 1941641

    I was in the MS National Guard in the early 1960’s. It was play, play all day and eat, eat; then at night it was party, party up and down Hwy 49,…then cycle started over. A little active duty at hurricane/tornado damaged areas occasionally. Pick up a check for active duty pay. Contemplate staying in or bailing out when the tour was up. One could feel proud about being a member or guilty about it, depending on one’s own mindset. Why is it such an issue in this debate?