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Back and Forth: The Defense Department continues discussions with the Council of Governors on the council's suggestions for modifying proposed force structure changes to the Air National Guard, said Secretary Michael Donley. DOD "continues to evaluate what our next steps should be," he told reporters in Washington, D.C., last week. Donley said Pentagon leadership "felt that there were aspects" of the council's plan "that were problematic." He added, "Now we are going back and forth" with counterproposals. The Air Force's Fiscal 2013 budget proposal includes a reduction in Total Force end strength by 9,900 airmen, including 5,100 Air Guardsmen. Among its adjustments, the proposal  would remove fighters and airlifters from some Air Guard units by Fiscal 2017 and in many cases, give those units new missions like operating remotely piloted aircraft. Still, some lawmakers have said the Air Guard cuts are disproportionally high. But Donley said the force structure proposals were devised so that the Air Force could keep the Total Force balanced in order to "maintain current operational tempo, meet surge requirements, and be able to meet sustained expeditionary operations over a long period" in the face of significant cuts to defense spending. His press roundtable was April 5.