budget

The 323rd Army Band, "Fort Sam's Own," performs outside the Alamo. The band is scheduled to be deactived in 2019.
Carson Frame / American Homefront

The military has more than 130 bands with more than 6000 musicians. But their cost – about a half-billion dollars a year – has made them a target for budget cutters in Congress and at the Pentagon.

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base." This is the second of four reports this week about the National Guard.

Inside the hangar at Washington state's Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), the Army National Guard mechanics are busy maintaining a neat line of Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters.