Governors Ask: Will National Guard Be Able to Meet Emergencies?
May 12 (EIRNS)--Because of equipment shortages brought on by the Iraq war, some governors are questioning whether or not their state National Guard units will be able to respond to natural disasters and other emergencies. According to Associated Press today, North Caroline Gov. Mike Easly said that his state has about half of the equipment it needs, and while it could probably respond adequately to a hurricane, "a pandemic or something like that may be a different question." A spokesman for Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski similarly told AP that "these war deployments have hurt our abilities to respond to these types of disasters."
National Guard troops that deploy to Iraq are forced to leave their equipment behind there, resulting in shortages all over the country. The California National Guard is missing 700 humvees and more than 1,100 high water vehicles, and has less than one-third of its stockpile of M4 rifles. Connecticut is missing more than 200 humvees, a CH-47D cargo helicopter, 1,500 pairs of night vision goggles, and 21 large support vehicles. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), citing GAO figures, said this week, that Illinois has only 45.6 percent of the equipment it is supposed to have.
The Pentagon admitted this week that the Army National Guard has only 56 percent of its required equipment, and that the $22 billion the administration has requested for National Guard equipment over the next five years, will still only bring that figure up to 76 percent.